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Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church 


Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South 






Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by 

in the District Court of the United States for the Middle District of Tennessee 


BISHOP McKENDREE was the first native American Bishop 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He served it long, faith- 
fully, and efficiently. His ministerial life began with the early 
history of the Church, extended through the period of its great- 
est trials, and closed after its perfect development as a great 
ecclesiastical organization. The time when he ceased "at once 
to work and live" was marked by unusal prosperity and peace 
in our communion. While Bishop Asbury was preeminent in 
founding and spreading Methodism in America, to Bishop 
McKendree may be justly awarded the distinction of carrying 
forward the work and securing its permanency and success by 
his remarkable legislative and administrative abilities. He 
combined in a high degree the prescience and strong com- 
mon sense required in a legislator and evinced also the 
highest ecclesiastical statesmanship in his administrative acts; 
and then his unshrinking submission to all the sacrifices and 
labors which the system of government exacted of him and 
his profound and uniform piety gave great moral force to the 
cause which he adorned and beautified by his life and labors . He 
loved the Church, the whole Church. He lived and labored for 
it and for nothing else, and his name and character are the com- 
mon heritage of Methodism, especially of American Meth- 

It is from this standpoint the author has attempted to 
write his "Life and Times." He was painfully aware of the 
difficulties of his task, and as he has not been able fully to 
satisfy himself, he cannot hope to satisfy others. He has, 
however, endeavored honestly and impartially to do his duty 
to all concerned. He trusts that this attempt to perpetuate 
the memory and the influence of a great and good man and of 
his colaborers may contribute to a more perfect history of our 
fathers and promote zeal and primitive Methodistic devotion 
in the ministry and membership of the Church. 

Bishop McKendree has been dead thirty-four years. His 
biography ought to have been published long since. At his 
death he bequeathed "all his papers of every description to 
Bishop Soule, to be used at his discretion, under the advice 

4 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of the Rev. T. L. Douglass;" but neither of them wrote a line 
as his biographer. 

At the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South, in 1854, Bishop Soule called attention to this 
subject and stated that owing to his afflictions and the want 
of leisure he had not been able to write the biography of his ven- 
erated and departed friend, and despaired of ever being able 
to do so, and, thinking it ought to be done, he desired to turn 
over the task to another. At the concurrent request of the 
Bishop and the General Conference, the writer reluctantly 
consented to undertake the work. 

. The work is sent forth with an earnest wish that it may 
contribute to the glory of God and the cause of pure reli- 

ABERDEEN, Miss., July 28, 1869. 


THE General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South, at its session in Columbus, Ga., May, 1854, requested 
Bishop Paine to write the biography of Bishop McKendree. 
The Conference was happy in its selection of a biographer 
of the venerable Bishop. Dr. Paine was for many years in- 
timately associated with Bishop McKendree; he traveled thou- 
sands of miles with him; frequently heard him preach; assisted 
him in the preparation of his addresses to the General and 
Annual Conferences and other important pa'pers; he was fa- 
miliar with all his views of the constitution and polity of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church and gave them his cordial indorse- 
ment; he was, though comparatively young, the particular, con- 
fidential friend of the Bishop and entertained for him the most 
devoted affection and veneration; and he still cherishes for his 
memory, as a son in the gospel, the most profound regard. He 
was thus eminently qualified to write his biography. 

Bishop Paine was a member of every General Conference 
from 1824 to 1844, at which session the Church was provi- 
sionally divided. He was consequently acquainted with the 
leading men of the Church who were associated with Bishop 
McKendree and whose characters are appropriately and im- 
partially sketched in this volume. In this work, indeed, 
will be found a history of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
down to the time of the death of Bishop McKendree, as he 
was identified with its principal movements from the begin- 

Bishop Paine has wisely allowed Bishop McKendree to be, 
to a very great extent, his own biographer, having made great 
use of his Diary, Journals, and other MSS. These extracts 
exhibit the devotion and zeal of Bishop McKendree and his 
associates. The work is thus of immense value to their suc- 
cessors in the ministry, who, it is hoped, by its perusal will 
be stimulated to reproduce the self-sacrificing spirit and 
labors of those holy men. 


NASHVILLE, TENN., August 1, 1869. 



Birth Parentage Occupation Residence Character of the family 
Their circumstances Father Mother Their children Will- 
iam Lucinda Dorotha Frances Her marriage by Bishop 
Asbury Character and death John Thomas James Nancy 

D. Like the Bishop Family lov 15 



McKendree becomes a soldier and an officer in the army of the Rev- 
olution At Yorktown Early life Education Intellectual char- 
acter His early moral and religious character The Church and 
clergy His account of himself Joins the Methodists Is discour- 
aged and retires Convictions renewed under John Easter Con- 
version Temptation Revival under Easter Opposition to it 
Easter's manner Success Other eminently useful preachers of',.; 
that day Garrettson, Ellis, Watters, Hull, Cooper, Moore, What*nw 
coat, Lee Account of Philip Bruce 20 


Letter from W. McKendree to Bishop Asbury in 1803 His conver- 
sion Entrance on the ministry Joins the Virginia Conference 
Misled by Mr. O'Kelly Returns to the work 31 


Mr. McKendree joins the Virginia Conference 1787 Appointed to 
Mecklenburg Circuit Burchett, Massie, Valentine Cook, and John 
McGee admitted the same time Numbers in Society Conference 
of 1789 Cumberland Circuit Conference of 1790 Ordained dea- 
con The Council a failure Appointed to Portsmouth Circuit 
Rev. D. Jarratt Extracts from Diary 43 


Extracts from his Diary Preaches two hours Vessels in a gale 
Feels like a wanderer Conversions Preaches in the open air 
In Portsmouth and Norfolk Bands Very busy Children's class 
Duty to baptized children Self-dedication Emancipation Is 
changed to another circuit "Power" Good breeding New cir- 
cuit His course of life. . 57 

8 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 


McKendree's Diary Fasting Reproof Mr. O'Kelly attacks the 
Council His course Itinerancy Tobacco Preparation for 
preaching Selecting and changing texts Different kinds of style 
The kind for the pulpit O'Kelly's Convention The regular Coun- 
cil Mr. Asbury gives it up McKendree visits his father Meets 
Bishop Asbury Is delighted Mr. Wesley's death Dr. Coke goes 
to England McKendree ordained elder December 25,1791 69 


McKendree appointed to Greenville Circuit in 1791 General Con- 
ference, 1792 O'Kelly withdraws and dies McKendree declines 
the work, but soon resumes it Asbury appoints him to Norfolk 
Conference in Petersburg in 1773 Travels three months with As- 
bury Union Circuit Philip Bruce, presiding elder Tobias Gib- 
son, his colleague Conference in 1794 at Mabry's John Kobler 
Conference, 1795 Is made presiding elder Continued three years 
1798 he presides in the bounds of Baltimore Conference In 
1800 Bishop Asbury takes him to the West Large District Diffi- 
culties Labors Usefulness 1801 travels through the wilderness 
with Asbury In 1804 General Conference Jerks Dancing 
Shaking Quakers Seceders from Presbyterian Church Marshall- 
ites Stoneites McKendree chief conservator of Methodism in the 
West 85 


McKendree presides at the Western Conference, 1804 Bishop What- 
coat's death, 1806 McKendree in Illinois and Missouri Review 
of the work in the West Delegated General Conference needed 
A bishop wanted New York plan to elect one Defeated by Vir- 
ginia Conference General Conference, 1808 McKendree made 
bishop His qualifications Dr. Coke's letter 105 


1808 an era in Methodism Bishop McKendree's first tour and first 
Conference at Liberty Hill Action on slavery The South Caro- 
lina Conference First missions to slaves Two Virginia Confer- 
ences Philadelphia and New York Conferences Steamboat ex- 
citement New England Conference Camp meetings at Pike Run, 
Zanesville, and Collins's Camp Grounds Western Conference at 
Cincinnati, September 30, 1809 Extracts from his Journal Meth- 
odists taxed for the benefit of Congregationalists in Connecticut 
His presidency Dr. Coke His overture to Bishop White in 1791 
explained and vindicated His proposal to divide the work with 
Bishop Asbury His death and character 125 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 9 


Bishops McKendree and Asbury go from Cincinnati to South Caro- 
lina Conference Thence to Virginia Conference To Baltimore 
Easton, Pa. New York New England Genesee Conference 
Camp meeting Conferences Through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee 
Bishops Asbury and McKendree go on horseback to South Caro- 
lina Winter tour Letter from Bishop Morris Method Mrs. 
Mabry's letter Attends various Conferences Letter to Bishop 
Asbury about stationing the preachers General Conference of 1812 
Presiding elder question No bishop elected Earthquake War 
Letters 150 


Difficulties and comforts New York Conference New England 
Conference changed on account of war Tendency of selling pews 
Genesee Conference Ohio Steubenville Tennessee Conference 
Cannot attend Louisiana Conference T. L. Douglass Bishops 
Asbury and McKendree on slavery Blackman's position on the 
subject He goes as chaplain to volunteers at the call of General 
Jackson William Burke's letter South Carolina and Virginia 
Conferences "Official decisions" Buxton New York Confer- 
ence Bishop Asbury's opinion of Bishop McKendree's sermon 
Joshua Marsden in United States He applies for employment 
Resigns it Why? Bishop Asbury's condition His will Why he 
expected to live long Painful round of Conferences in 1814 Bish- 
op McKendree's fall Wounding hip and ribs Tennessee Confer- 
ence held at camp meeting in Logan County, Ky. Neither of the 
bishops can be at the Mississippi Conference Genesee Conference 
Tornado Gets to Cincinnati South Carolina Virginia 
Maryland Pennsylvania Asbury preaches Found Dr. Coke at 
Albany, N. Y. Ohio Conference at Mechanicsburg "Long, ear- 
nest talk" Bishop Asbury crosses Alleghany sixty-two times 
Both bishops attend the Tennessee Conference Separated never 
to meet again on earth McKendree at South Carolina Conference 
Asbury within thirty miles Very feeble Hammet's people re- 
turn Virginia Conference at Raleigh Bishop McKendree's father 
dies Baltimore Conference Bishop Asbury absent, and preaches 
his last sermon in Richmond, Va. His death Bond's letters in- 
closing Asbury's views and last letter to McKendree His person 
and character 169 


Bishop Asbury's valedictory His Birth Death Burial Remains 
removed to Baltimore . . . 186 

10 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 


General Conference of 1816 Bishop McKendree's address George 
and Roberts elected bishops Sketches of them Bishop McKen- 
dree's Journal The work divided New York and Kentucky Con- 
ferences Bishop McKendree organizes the Missouri Conference 
McKendree and George at South Carolina Conference Changes 
made by General Conference From Middlebury to Tennessee 
Norton rejoins him To Mississippi Conference on horesback 
McMahon and wife with him Mississippi Conference at Midway, 
1817 To South Carolina Conference Griffin with him Difficul- 
ties of traveling Crossing the Chattahoochee General Gaines 
Indian murders In Sparta Myers Conference in Augusta, Ga. 
Roberts arrives They go to Virginia Conference in Norfolk 
Dr. Phoebus Travels alone and leads a pack horse In Tennessee 
Visits Southwest extensively Ohio Conference of 1818 Mis- 
souri Troubles at Tennessee Conference Writer's first acquaint- 
ance with him Starts to Mississippi Conference with Seaton and 
Edge The shock Very much affected Mississippi Conference 
Back to Tennessee Bishop Roberts's letters Notes on preacher's 
qualifications Dr. Emory Letters between them Their subse- 
quent intercourse 202 


General Conference of 1820 Address of Bishop McKendree Au- 
thorized to travel at his discretion A bishop to be elected J. Soule 
elected Presiding elder question Positions of the bishops "Com- 
promise" or "peace measure" Soule desires leave to decline 
McKendree's statement Facts Powers of General and Annual 
Conferences and bishops Soule's letter Bishops confer Pre- 
pare to ordain Soule The resolutions suspended- Bishop McKen- 
dree's appeal to the Annual Conferences Precedent for it Soule 
declines His reasons The other bishops to do the work next four 
years Bishop McKendree troubled, but resolves to do what he can 
Gets to Tennessee Conference 231 


Bishop McKendree's appeal to the Annual Conferences as to the sus- 
pended resolutions The Southern and Western Conferences con- 
sent Five others reject it It fails By whom and why Wes- 
leyan Repository Mutual Rights Methodist Protestant Church 
Journal resumed Henry Smith's narrative Visits extensively 
Preaches at camp meeting He goes South South Carolina Con- 
ference J. Soule's letters Dr. Capers's letter His character and 
influence His second letter The era of missions Cherokee and 
Choctaw Missions to slaves Bible and Sunday School Societies. . 258 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 11 


Tennessee Conference in 1823 Bishops McKendree and George pre- 
sent Vertigo McKendree's purpose to cross the mountains in the 
winter abandoned The promise to take him to Baltimore in the 
spring Starts in March, 1824 Companions in travel Difficulties 
on the route Crosses the Cumberland Mountains Winton's 
Wilkerson's Crosses the Alleghany Mountains The night at the 
hut Crosses the Yadkin in a canoe Wilkesboro Salem Guil- 
ford Battle Ground The effect of that battle in 1791 Person 
County Crosses Roanoke River At Taylor's Boydtown 
Adam's Crossing Meherrin River Calls, on the families of his 
friends on his route R. C. Boothe's In Petersburg, Va. Rich- 
mond Alexandria Georgetown At Judge McLean's McKin- 
ney's Mr. Calhoun's letter Dr. Bascom chaplain to Congress 
In Baltimore W. Wilkins Dr. Samuel Baker Impression made 
by the tour 283 


General Conference of 1824 Messrs. Reece and Hannah Commit- 
tees Petitions Report on Episcopacy Winans on the report and 
the constitution "The constitutional test" Bishop's veto 
Amendment to the constitution proposed by the bishops and others 
J. Soule's views Question carried The suspended resolutions 
question Left as unfinished business Quorum broken Bishop 
Roberts and Freeborn Garrettson Soule and Hedding elected 
bishops Ordained Sketches Bishop McKendree's Address 
He is gratified 292 


The Bishops divide the work for four years Bishop McKendree 
starts on a tour of three thousand miles His letter to Dr. Sargent 
His route from Baltimore to the Wyandotte Mission Bishop 
Soule and family Jacob Crist Finley meets him at Columbus, 
Ohio Visits and preaches to the Indians Weary Bear skin bed 
on the ground Gets to Kentucky Conference at Versailles At- 
tends the Missouri Couference Returns to Tennessee very feeble 
His letter to Bishops Roberts and Soule resigning the active duties 
of the superintendency Resumes his travels in the spring of 1825 
B. T. Crouch's letter Mr. Summerfield 301 


Richard Reece and John Hannah messengers from England Mr. 
Reece's letter Bishop McKendree's reply He goes through Ken- 
tucky Rests five days in ninety-five Attends Kentucky Confer- 
ence with Bishop Roberta J. B. Finley and Dr. M. Ruter Thence 

12 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

to Jonesboro, East Tennessee Attends the Holston Conference 
Lynchburg Hezekiah G. Leigh Portsmouth Attends the Balti- 
more, Philadelphia, New York, and Genesee Conferences Thence 
to South Carolina Virginia in the spring of 1827 Baltimore 
Philadelphia Thence west to the Wyandotte Mission, through 
Ohio Kentucky Conference Winters in Tennessee In 1828 he 
and Gwin go to the General Conference -at Pittsburgh Retrospect 
A true, apostolic episcopos Jesse Walker Bishop McKendree's 
characteristics Old Gray Another round Philip Bruce Jeffer- 
son and Adams die South Carolina Conference in Augusta, Jan- 
uary 11, 1827 Roberts and Soule there also Back to Baltimore 
Sick Gets to the Wyandottes, then to Nashville His skeptical 
doctor convinced Freeborn Garrettson's death Indian letter 
Henry Smith's letter Letter from Lewis Garrett 312 


General Conference of 1828 at Pittsburgh Bishop's Address Sus- 
pended resolutions lost "Wesleyan Repository" "Mutual 
Rights" McCane and others expelled Memorial Report upon 
it by Dr. Emory Dr. Thomas E. Bond and Dr. Emory defend the 
Church Canada question settled Action of the General Confer- 
ence Inferences Dr. Capers elected delegate to the Wesleyan 
Methodist Conference Dr. Fisk Bishop McKendree's account 
of this Conference A crisis in the history of the Church The Bish- 
op's Journal Travels back to Tennessee Attends quarterly and 
camp meeting in Kentucky and Tennessee His route to Georgia 
over Lookout Mountain Preaches to an Indian Council Gets to 
Athens, Ga. At Asbury Hull's Sick Ordains Stephen Olin 
Sketch of him 332 


McKendree at Augusta Savannah Preaches to whites and blacks 
Conference at Charleston Bishop Roberts absent Not able to 
preside Returns to Lynchburg, to the Virginia Conference To 
the Baltimore and Philadelphia Conferences Thence through 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky to Tennessee Douglass' camp 
meeting His voice Conversion of a mute Bishop George's 
death Sketch The Bishop's homes at Nashville J. T. Elliston's 
and H. R. W. Hill's Down the Mississippi River The Colonel 
His plan Liberia 344 


Begins his tour in 1830 in feeble health Friends protest Breaks 
down at Jonesboro Returns Discontinues his Diary In 1831 
starts again Spends the winter in Baltimore General Conference 
of 1832 Bishops' Address Action of the General Conference as to 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 13 

Bishop McKendree J. O. Andrew and John Emory elected Bish- 
ops Sketches Emory as President 354 


Bishop Emory's visit to the South His death His letter to Bishop 
McKendree Both died the same year Bishop McKendree takes 
final leave of old friends Gets back to Tennessee on a bed in a car- 
riage Letter from Bishop Morris Dr. Adam Clarke's letter Mel- 
ville B. Cox His account of himself Goes as missionary to Li- 
beriaDies 360 


McKendree attends the Tennessee Conference in Pulaski, 1833 Bish- 
op Roberts fails to get there Bishop McKendree unable to pre- 
side His substitutes Meteoric shower He appoints T. L. Doug- 
lass presiding elder Sketch of him Bishop McKendree's Address 
to his colleagues His sermon Returns to Nashville exhausted 
Preaches Resumes his Journal Watch night Starts to New Or- 
leans, January 1, 1834 His account of the tour At Vicksburg 
C. K. Marshall At Natchez Judge Edward McGehee and the 
Rev. John C. Burruss Dr. Tooley " Slight paralysis" His letter 
to the Rev. F. A. Owen Returns to Tennessee His last camp 
meeting and interview with William Burke His last Conference at 
Lebanon, Tenn., 1834 Requested to prepare his biography His 
reply Last document 370 


Bishop McKendree leaves all his papers to Bishop Soule and T. L. 
Douglass The Lebanon Conference a time of great interest He 
visits the Conference for the last time Bids adieu Gwin, Page, 
Douglass, and McGee there Returns to Nashville Preaches his 
[last sermon there, November 23 Goes to his brother's Depressed 
His last battle Victor His sufferings Effect of prayer Fam- 
ily love The closing scene "All's well" His burial Should his 
remains be removed? Review of his life and character. 385 

14 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 





































MCKENDREE.. . 544 



Birth Parentage Occupation Residence Character of the family 
Their circumstances Father Mother Their children Wil- 
liam Lucinda Dorotha Frances Her marriage by Bishop 
Asbury Character and death John Thomas James Nancy 
D. Like the Bishop Family love. 

WILLIAM MCKENDREE was born in King William County, 
Va., about forty miles northeast of Richmond, July 6, 1757. 
His parents, John and Mary McKendree, were both natives of 
the same State. His father was a planter, and William was 
brought up in the same occupation. He was not only taught 
the art of husbandry, but was also trained in early life to 
habits of industry and frugality. 

Our history of the McKendree family begins with the birth 
of William, the eldest child, while residing in King William 
County; but before he was seven years of age, they removed to 
James City County, about sixty miles southeast of Richmond, 
and near Williamsburg, the well-known seat of William and Mary 
College. A few years afterwards they again changed their 
place of residence and settled in Greenville County, upon 
Meherrin River, and near the southern boundary of the State. 
Here they remained for many years. Their pecuniary condi- 
tion was not such as in Virginia would be called wealthy; 
although from incidental allusions found in the Bishop's Diary, 
as well as from other reliable sources of information, they were 
doubtless in comfortable and independent circumstances. They 
were a plain, industrious, and moral family, without preten- 
sions to fame or extraordinary talents, yet even in the Old 
Dominion holding a reputable position for intelligence, in- 
tegrity, and honorable estimation. 

John McKendree, the father of the Bishop, seems to have been 
in every respect a most worthy and exemplary man. To make 
provision for the wants of his large family and to guide them 
by precept and example to honor, usefulness, and piety were 
the great objects of his efforts. With strong domestic affections 
and without any desire for notoriety, he led an humble, in- 

16 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

dustrious, and religious life. In 1810 he removed from Vir- 
ginia to Sumner County, Tenn., in company with his son, Dr. 
James McKendree, his son-in-law, Mr. Charles Harris, with 
tlieir families, and his two unmarried daughters. In October, 
1815, this venerable and excellent man gently breathed his 
last, leaving a dying testimony to the truth and power of re- 
ligion corresponding with his exemplary life. He died on his 
eighty-eighth birthday. The patriarch was buried near the 
residence of his son James, in Sumner County, Tenn., in a re- 
tired and beautiful rural locality and beneath the wide-spread 
branches of a cluster of venerable forest trees. It is said that 
the Bishop was often heard to express a wish, should he die 
near there, to be buried by the side of his venerated father; 
and as he did die at the very place, he was interred there, and 
his mortal part still reposes in that consecrated spot. 

Mary, the mother of Bishop McKendree, \vas a great suffer- 
er. About the year 1769, she became so prostrated by severe 
affliction that she was ever afterwards con fined to her room and 
generally to her bed. Her health, however, gradually improved, 
so that she was able to oversee her domestic affairs, devolving 
upon her daughters the more active duties of the household. 
But, although an invalid and confined to her room for twenty 
years, her example of patience, her tact in planning and direct- 
ing her domestic duties, and her kind and Christian manners 
were of inestimable value to her family. Such sweetness of 
temper, so many sensible lessons upon the proprieties of life, 
and such a consistent exemplification of the purity and power 
of religion as she exhibited throughout these long years of 
affliction made an ineffaceable impression upon her children; 
and doubtless that impression was stronger from the fact that 
these lovely traits were seen in a fond and suffering mother. 
But this deeply afflicted lady, having been mercifully spared 
to train her young family for twenty years after she became 
a hopeless invalid, was at last permitted to rest from her sor- 
rows and to die in the triumphs of Christian faith. Her death 
occurred in 1789. 

The memory of his patient, tender, bed-ridden, and yet re- 
signed and happy mother lingered in the heart of her devoted 
son to his latest hour and always associated with the name 
of mother all that is pure and lovely in humanity sanctified by 

The children of this family were 

1. William, the subject of this biography. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 17 

2. Lucinda, who married Jesse Jordan and died in Virginia 
about 1778, leaving an only child. This child was a daughter 
who, upon the death of her mother, was taken into her grand- 
father's family and treated as his own child. 

3. Dorotha, married to Mr. Charles Harris, in 1797, and 
who with her husband followed the fortunes of the family to 
the West. She had four children, and died in Alabama in her 
seventy-fourth year. 

4. Frances, born June 22, 1763; converted in July, 1778; 
was married to the Rev. Nathanael Moore, October 12, 1815 ; and 
died near Columbia, Tenn., January 3, 1835. Bishops Asbury 
and McKendree were both present at her marriage, having 
called to spend a few days with the family while making a tour 
of the Western Conferences. The following characteristic notice 
of the event is found in Bishop Asbury's Journal in October, 

Tuesday, 10. At James McKendree's; Nathanael Moore has come to 
take away our Sister Frances McKendree. All parties are pleased. . . . 
On Thursday, I officiated at the marriage of Nathanael Moore and Frances 
McKendree. We believe it is of the Lord. They are a worthy couple and 
nearly of an age. 

The marriage license of these persons is found among Bishop 
McKendree's papers, signed by David Shelby, clerk, and cer- 
tified by Bishop Asbury as solemnized by him October 12, 

Bishop McKendree exceeded all men I have ever known 
for keeping all papers that fell into his hands. Why this was not 
filed in the clerk's office, I cannot conjecture. Perhaps it was 

From a personal acquaintance with this estimable and pious 
lady, the writer formed the opoinion that, as to intellect and 
sensibilities, she very much resembled her brother, the Bishop. 
A week spent at her house in 1824 in company with Bishop 
McKendree afforded the opportunity of witnessing her piety 
and patience under affliction as well as her attachment to the 
almost idolized brother. From an extended obituary notice 
of her, prepared by the Rev. Thomas Logan Douglass and in- 
serted in the Methodist Magazine for 1826, this history of 
the McKendree family has been principally derived. The 
materials of this history are understood to have been fur- 
nished by the Bishop himself. 

Her death was a remarkably calm and happy one. Her 

18 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

loved and honored brother was permitted to be with her 
for many days during her long and painful decline and was 
with her at her death. And who that has ever heard his 
soft and sweetly musical voice at the bed of a dying Christian 
but can appreciate the privilege of having such a counselor at 
such a crisis? Nor is it strange that so conscientious and de- 
voted a Christian, consoled and instructed by one so dear to her 
and so eminently capable of soothing and strengthening her, 
should have been found composed and triumphant when the 
solemn hour of her exit arrived. Such was her end. She had 
no child. 

5. John was the fifth child. He removed to South Carolina 
and died in the city of Charleston, November 28, 1817, aged 
fifty-three years. His wife preceded him to the grave about 
six months. They left four children Thomas, William, John 
Dudley, and Lemuel Joseph. 

6. Thomas; he also went to South Carolina and died in that 
State, October, 1817, on Cooper River. He left two children, 
John James and Caroline. 

7. James, the seventh child, married in 1792, always lived 
in the vicinity of his parents, and brought up a large and re- 
spectable family. His house was the Bishop's home, if he 
can be said to have had a home who spent his whole time as an 
itinerant. At his house their father died; there the Bishop 
closed his eventful and useful life; and there, in a few years aft- 
erwards, James and Frances were interred by his side to await 
"the resurrection of the just." 

8. The eighth and last child was Nancy D. In many re- 
spects she greatly resembled her eldest brother. In mind, heart, 
and manners, she seemed to be his counterpart. Like a min- 
istering angel, she devoted herself to the welfare of others. 
She watched over and soothed her father during the long period 
of his decrepit old age, attended her sister Frances in her 
protracted sufferings, and was the constant and favorite nurse 
of the Bishop in his last years, and particularly in his final ill- 
ness. Indeed, her father, Frances, and William, literally died 
in her arms. 

The Bishop may not have been aware of the fact, but she 
was evidently his favorite. He had too much sense and too 
large a heart to exclude any one of those who held the 
same relation to him from his warm and fraternal love; but 
could he help loving Nancy more than the rest? She loved him 
as only a pure-hearted, orphan sister can love a noble and 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 19 

fond brother. Toward the latter part of their lives, they had 
little else of earthly objects to love. There was a sameness of 
condition for, like him, she never married a congeniality 
of taste, temperament, and mind, which strongly knit them 
together. She sympathized with him in his anxieties about 
the Church as well as in his other mental and bodily afflic- 
tions, entered with liveliest interest into his feelings of entire 
consecration to the one high and holy end of his life, and doubt- 
less felt more than any one else could feel a sisterly pride in 
his position, his worth, and his usefulness. They were truly 
kindred spirits. 

Having lost all her nearest relations, she, too, passed away, 
in 1838, to reunite, doubtless, with her precious brother and 
to join the "great multitude whom no man can number." 
She was buried at the head of the Bishop's grave. Pleasant 
in life, in death they are not divided. 

A peculiarity which marked the McKendree family and dis- 
played itself on many occasions must have been cherished while 
the children were all around the domestic hearth. The allusion 
is to their very strong family love. In the course of this bi- 
ography, we shall find abundant evidence of the strength of 
this principle in several members of this amiable and pious 
family especially in William, Frances, and Nancy. And who 
can estimate the importance of this principle? Without it 
society loses one of its surest guaranties and religion one of 
its most potent class of motives. 

It is the great principle of moral gravitation, binding society 
together, giving bliss and sanctity to our homes, and preserv- 
ing order and harmony in the body politic. It cultivates the 
noblest instincts of our nature, opens new and pure fountains 
of enjoyment, restrains our impetuous and dangerous passions, 
and, regulated by enlightened and earnest piety, almost re- 
stores to earth again the long-lost pleasures of paradise. 


McKendree becomes a soldier and an officer in the army of the Revolution 
At Yorktown Early life Education Intellectual character His 
early moral and religious character The Church and clergy His ac- 
count of himself Joins the Methodists Is discouraged, and retires 
Convictions renewed under John Easter Conversion Temptation 
Revival under Easter Opposition! to it Easter's manner Success 
Other eminently useful preacher* of that day: Garrettson, Ellis, Wat- 
ters, Hull, Cooper, Moore, Whatcoat, Lee Account of Philip Bruce. 

Mr.McKENDREE was about twenty years old when the mem- 
orable struggle of our Revolution began; and although from 
his extreme modesty he very rarely alluded to the fact in the 
latter part of his life, yet there can be no doubt that he took a 
decided part in that eventful and glorious war which resulted 
in our independence. Rumor had connected his name with 
Bruce and other early Methodist preachers as having been 
engaged in the Revolutionary War on the side of his country, 
but until his death called before the public the evidence of 
the fact, the part he had borne was generally unknown, except 
among his old acquaintances. In the Western Methodist 
of 1835, a long and well-written obituary of Bishop McKendree 
appeared, in which it was said of him: "He was an adjutant 
in the levies of his native State during the latter part of the 
Revolutionary War and was in the commissary department 
and showed his accustomed energy of character in making 
impressments of cattle and food to sustain the allied armies 
of Washington and Rochambeau at the siege of Cornwallis at 
Yorktown." The Rev. Henry Smith, in his "Recollections of 
an Old Itinerant," p. 59, says of the Bishop: "He had been in 
the Revolutionary War, and was at the battle of Yorktown 
when Cornwallis was taken. In 1820, I passed with him over 
the ground, and he showed me where his camp was." And 
the same author, in a letter to the writer, dated Baltimore 
County, Md., February 6, 1855, says upon this point: "From 
what Bishop McKendree told me, he belonged to a company 
of volunteers raised, I presume, in his own immediate neigh- 
borhood. They were present at the siege of Yorktown; he 
pointed out to me the place where they were encamped when, 
in October, 1820, I traveled with him over the ground. He 
spoke of exercising their horses when they expected to be called 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 21 

into action," etc. The fact is also stated in the sketch of 
Bishop McKendree given by Dr. McClintock, p. 69, and also 
the " Life of McKendree," written by Benjamin St. James 
Fry, p. 14, who says: "When the war of the Revolution was 
commenced, and the call went forth for volunteers, as might 
readily be expected, he was found among those who took up 
arms in the cause of liberty. The extent of his service in the 
army is not known, but it is certain that he attained to the rank 
of adjutant and was for a time at least connected with the com- 
missary department." He continued with the army for some 
years; indeed, the war virtually closed with the surrender of 
Lord Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, although a general peace 
was not proclaimed until April 19, 1783. 

The writer was for many years as familiar with Bishop 
McKendree as anyone could be who was so much his junior. 
He was his traveling companion and amanuensis for several 
months at a time; passed with him by short stages through 
Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, over several battle 
fields of the Revolution; visiting the vicinity of Mount Ver- 
non; talking with him occasionally about his recollections of 
Washington and the war of independence; sitting with him in 
Washington's family pew, which had the initials of his name 
still upon its door; but in all these long and solitary rides and 
these familiar conversations upon kindred topics, he never 
heard him allude to his own services in the Revolution. Perhaps 
he was afraid of appearing vain of his reputation as an officer 
in the noble struggle for national independence and wished to 
set an example of modesty and humility. In him the soldier 
of civil liberty was merged in the nobler character of a true and 
valiant soldier of the cross. Having done his duty to his 
country in the capacity of a patriot soldier, he was contented, 
and never boasted of his feats nor sought a pension for his 
services. Worldly honors and riches were far below his aim. 

Bishop McKendree's early life seems not to have been dis- 
tinguished by any very remarkable incidents. He grew to 
manhood at a period in our colonial history unfavorable to 
mental culture. There were very few schools then in Virginia 
competent to give a good English education, while only three 
or four colleges had been founded in America, and only one 
in his native State. 

His education, therefore, was such as the country schools 
afforded, perhaps neither better nor worse than was usual 
with those who, like himself, belonged to the middle class of 

22 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

society. That he was not a classical scholar, nor when he entered 
the ministry a good English scholar, we have no wish to con- 
ceal; but he had a fair rudimentary education; had taught 
school, had a quick apprehension, a sound and discriminating 
mind, and such a refined taste as gave great accuracy to his 
selection and use of words. Combined with these qualities was 
his ardent desire for knowledge and his tenacity of purpose 
in the pursuit of it; and then, after he had taken upon himself 
the vows of the ministry, he drew "all his cares and studies 
this way, " being " diligent in prayers, and in reading of the Holy 
Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of 
the same, laying aside the study of the world and the flesh." 
This concentration of mind and heart upon the work of his 
vocation soon began to develop his intellectual power. 

Nor must we leave out of the account that element of all 
true greatness, known as common sense, which he possessed 
in an eminent degree; destitute of which, whatever other 
qualifications he might have had, he could not have wielded 
the influence that he exerted as a preacher and a bishop. This 
quality of mind is displayed in the calm and just exercise of the 
reasoning powers, in the skillful adaptation of means to an end, 
and in the prudent use of such means. It implies a ready appre- 
hension of the characters of men and of the motives that 
actuate them. Its possessors usually exhibit self-reliance and 
firmness and are distinguished for sound practical views. Call 
this shrewdness, good judgment, common sense, or whatever 
else, it is an all-important qualification for success in every 
department of life; and in none is it more requisite than in a 
Christian minister and especially in a bishop. Without it, the 
most splendid talents in a preacher are frequently useless, 
and sometimes worse than useless; they but give notoriety to 
his errors, and thus elevate him to render his fall the more ob- 
vious. The history of many a brilliant mind furnishes a strik- 
ing illustration of the truth of these remarks. The comets 
which blaze athwart our field of vision, attracting for a while 
every eye and causing the beautiful constellations to pale be- 
fore their gorgeous splendors, soon retire into obscurity and 
leave our planet to its former nightly gloom; and then the late- 
ly obscured and forgotten stars resume their office, lighting 
up the dome of the Creator's sublime temple of the natural 
universe with the sheen of their thousand lamps. Give me the 
less brilliant but constant stars in preference to the more glar- 
ing meteor and the fiery comet. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 23 

Few men have been more distinguished for sound and un- 
sophisticated judgment than Bishop McKendree. The want 
of early advantages threw him upon his own resources, induced 
self-reliance, and a manly independence in the investigation 
of truth and in the expression of his convictions. 

Of his schoolboy days we have no minute account. We only 
know the boy by the man. We confess we have heard him 
quoted as an instance of those who develop slowly the faculties 
which eventually distinguish them as preachers and logi- 
cians, but whose early pulpit efforts discourage the hopes of 
their friends. 

Doubtless there have been many examples of this kind; 
nor do we make any claim to precocious smartness on behalf 
of Bishop McKendree. It may possibly be true that some of 
his friends were disappointed by his early performances; yet, 
if his powers developed slowly at first, it is certain that the 
rich, ripe fruit at last appeared in abundance and continued 
to mature beyond the ordinary term of human life, presenting a 
result which heightens our respect for the dignity of our common 
nature and the character of our holy religion. But we are 
constrained to say that we do not believe his early life, and 
especially his early ministry, evinced a want of mental quick- 
ness. It is a legend which may have comforted many a lazy 
and unpopular young preacher, but, so far as can now be 
known, is without foundation. The evidence is to the contrary. 
That he was modest, timid, and exceedingly sensitive and that 
his taste was in advance of his capacity to execute, insomuch 
that his hesitation in selecting words seemed sometimes almost 
stammering, we have no doubt; but th,at he was a dull boy or 
an unpromising young preacher, we resolutely deny. Those 
only could think so who did not know him or were incompe- 
tent to judge him. 

The God of nature gave him not only a quick ana logical 
mind, strong common sense, and an insatiable thirst for all 
useful knowledge, but so much of the imaginative faculty as 
enabled him to array the vivid conceptions of his mind in 
striking and appropriate topics; and yet these powers were so 
balanced by a keen sense of the ridiculous and the sophistical, 
and so regulated by his love of order, by an instinctive per- 
ception of propriety, and by an enlightened conscience that 
in his mature years he presented as fine a specimen of a 
gentleman, a Christian, and a bishop as this or any other 
country has ever produced. Such a character is the product 

24 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of native talent, mental culture, and divine grace. If either 
be deficient, the pattern is spoiled. We would not disparage 
the ministry. On the contrary, we regard the Protestant 
ministry as the most unselfish, pure-minded, and useful class 
of society. The world could poorly afford to do without them; 
and yet that there are so few among them whose whole lives 
exhibit an elevated and commanding apprehension of the nature 
and ends of their vocation is matter of humiliation; but that 
there are some who evince such a beautiful coincidence between 
profession and practice and such ability and perseverance in 
the discharge of duty calls for gratitude. Our Divine Master 
raises up some such in every age, as if to show of what our 
poor humanity is capable under the influence of his gospel. 

His own account of himself, as well as the statements of 
others, agree in representing him to have been virtuous and 
comparatively moral. His parents were members of the Church 
of England \ moral in their deportment and regular in their at- 
tendance upon the ordinances. Of course the family was 
brought up under the religious instructions of that Church, 
which was then the prevailing religion of the Southern colonies. 
The standard of Christian morals was, however, very low at 
that day; for when the clergy were given to ease, attending 
horse races, balls, wine parties, and indulging in dancing and 
card playing, it might be expected that the religious training 
of the youth of the Church would be sadly defective. By com- 
mon consent, it has been called an era of spiritual darkness, 
both in Europe and America. The Church, notwithstanding 
her doctrinal orthodoxy and her boasted beautiful formulas, 
was laboring under a moral paralysis. In vain did a few of 
her gifted and truly pious ministers strive to resuscitate her. 
Whitefield, the Wesleys, and their coadjutors, with almost 
superhuman eloquence and power, essayed to arouse and 
reanimate her; and although they accomplished much good 
and laid the foundation for a great reformation, yet, as a 
Church, she either coldly frowned upon these, her best friends 
and truest sons, or openly denounced and persecuted them. 
Her doors were everywhere shut against them. Her clergy 
cheered on the rabble, who, finding their vices denounced and 
their consciences alarmed by the plain and fervid appeals of these 
holy men, were ever ready to resort to the most violent means 
for the purpose of silencing them. Their solemn protestations 
against their alleged defection toward the Church and their 
oft-repeated assertions of love to it and of their seeking its 

je and Times of Bishop McKendree 25 

reformation in spiritual matters alone were disregarded. Those 
in authority denied the necessity of a revival and contemptu- 
ously spurned both them and their services, and in the same 
breath with which they sought to degrade these heroic men 
of God they justified the fashionable follies and prevailing 
vices of the times. Thus the distinction between the Church 
of Christ and the world was either utterly obliterated or was 
seen only in the external observance or nonobservance of the 
ceremonies and sacraments. In morals, the line of division 
was invisible. Yet, even under such unfavorable circum- 
stances, young McKendree was restrained from gross immor- 
alities and preserved a character for virtue and morality. 

The following is his own account of this period of his life: 
"I do not recollect to have sworn more than one profane oath 
in my life, yet, as far back as memory serves, I am conscious 
of the prevalence of evil passions, of a heart disposed to wicked- 
ness, so that notwithstanding the restraints by which I was 
kept within the bounds of a respectable morality my heart was 
far from being right with God. It was ' deceitful and desperate- 
ly wicked.' Of this deplorable state of things I became ex- 
quisitely sensible by reading the Holy Scriptures in school 
when I was a small boy. For want of proper instruction, my 
apprehension of God the Redeemer and of the Holy Scriptures 
was very superficial. I literally 'understood as a child,' and 
with the simplicity of a child I yielded to the dictates of con- 
science, refrained from what appeared to be wrong, and, as a 
child, endeavored to imitate those holy men of God as set 
forth in the Scriptures." 

Bishop Soule, from whose sermon on the death of Bishop 
McKendree, delivered before the General Conference in 1836, 
we quote, adds: "Had these impressions been cherished by 
pious instructors and by parents who had the power as well 
as the form of godliness, there can be little doubt that this 
pious youth, like young Timothy, would 'from a child' have 
' known the Holy Scriptures' in such a manner as to have be- 
come 'wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ 
Jesus,' and thereby prepared the way for his entering upon the 
arduous duties of the ministry at a much earlier period than 
he did; but for want of such helps and in consequence of op- 
position and discouragement from those who should have taught 
him the way of righteousness and aided him to walk therein at 
this tender age his impressions were weakened, conscience 

26 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

became more inclined to slumber, and his religious resolutions 
were shaken. But still the fear of God did not forsake him." 

It was about the commencement of the Revolution that the 
Methodist preachers (then under the direction of Mr. Wesley) 
first visited that section of Virginia in which the McKendree 
family resided. William was then about nineteen years of age, 
possessed of exquisite sensibilities and a heart all buoyant with 
anticipation. The ministry of the word was attended with the 
power of the Spirit, and many were convinced that these were 
the servants of the Most High God. The early religious im- 
pressions, which in a great measure had become extinguished 
in the mind of this interesting young man by the amusements 
of the world, were now revived and strengthened. He "yielded 
to conviction and resolved to lead a new life. " In conform- 
ity with this resolution, he proposed to unite with the Methodist 
Society as a seeker of religion and was received on trial; but 
here again his resolution was shaken; and, halting by the way, 
he failed to obtain the prize. His own undisguised represen- 
tation of his case clearly shows the danger of awakened persons 
associating with those companions, however civil they may 
be, who neither fear nor love God, especially before age and 
experience have fortified the heart. 

"But my attachment to worldly associates," says Bishop 
McKendree, "who were civil and respectful in their deport- 
ment had grown with my growth, and my conviction was not 
accompanied with sufficient firmness to dissolve the connection; 
and their conduct being accommodated to my reformed man- 
ners, I continued to enjoy the friendship, both of the Society 
and of the world, but in a very imperfect degree. They con- 
tinued to counteract and impair each other, until theloveof the 
world prevailed and my relish for genuine piety departed. I 
peaceably retired from the Society, while my conduct continued 
to secure their friendship." 

The narrative of Bishop Soule proceeds: "In this situation, 
with no material change in his religious state, except a gradual 
decline of concern for the salvation of his soul, he continued 
for several years; but his abiding conviction of the importance 
and necessity of religion and his exquisite sensibility to con- 
sistency of character preserved him from gross immoralities 
and prevented a rapid progress in the way of sin. In the year 
1787, he being about thirty years of age, a powerful and exten- 
sive revival of religion commenced in Brunswick Circuit, in 
which he lived, under the ministry of that devoted servant of 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 27 

God, the Rev. John Easter. In the course of this year Mr. 
Easter added about twelve hundred members to the Church. " 

This year (1787) was the period of his conversion to God, 
the year in which he received that inward and spiritual revela- 
tion of the Son of God which is an indispensable qualification 
for preaching his unsearchable riches. This great change is 
thus described by his own pen: "My convictions were renewed; 
they were deep and pungent. The great deep of my heart was 
broken up; its desperately wicked nature was disclosed and the 
awfully ruinous consequences clearly appeared. My repentance 
was sincere. I was desirous of salvation, and became willing 
to be saved upon any terms; and after a sore and sorrowful 
travail of three days, which were employed in hearing Mr. 
Easter and in fasting and prayer while that man of God was 
showing a large congregation the way of salvation by faith with 
a clearness which, at the same time, astonished and encouraged 
me, I ventured my all on Christ. In a moment my soul was de- 
livered of a burden too heavy to be borne, and joy instantly 
succeeded sorrow. For a short space of time I was fixed in 
silent admiration, giving glory to God for his unspeakable 
goodness to such an unworthy creature. " 

But, alas! although this change was great and glorious, al- 
though conscious of sensible comfort, and at the same time 
enabled to cry, "Abba, Father," yet his experience accords 
with but too many in this, that the delightful state of his emo- 
tions was presently succeeded by doubts as to the depth and 
reality of the change. In this state of temptation he continued 
six weeks; then a new and overwhelming blessing removed all 
doubt and assured him of peace and pardon. The enemy had 
suggested that it was presumptuous to believe that so impor- 
tant a work could be accomplished so soon, if at all; and the 
vast interests which the profession of religion involve made him 
correspondingly fearful of a mistake in relation to it. His temp- 
tations were strengthened, doubtless, by the denunciations 
which he often heard of those "strange zealots," those "ir- 
regular lay preachers, " who, ignoring the doctrine of a personal 
and unbroken succession of three distinct orders in the ministry 
and the indispensableness of ordination from such supposed 
monopolists of all clerical authority, dared to preach .Christ 
crucified to their fellow men; for, unfortunately, there were 
those then, as now and as there were in the beginning of the 
Christian Church, who were ready to forbid all others from 
casting out devils who "follow not us." But if Christ, who 

28 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

actually did daily cast out devils, so pointedly reproved this 
prescriptive spirit in the apostles, with what language would 
he speak to those now who would hinder others from doing the 
good which they either cannot or will not do? Surely those 
who claim the exclusive right to preach and to save souls ought 
to be remarkably zealous in their vocation; and even then, if 
they would imitate the Master, they should not refuse the 
cooperation of any who truly "cast out devils"; for if they who 
cast them out in his name "cannot speak evil" of Christ, surely 
Christ's apostles cannot speak evil of those who "do the works 
of Christ." 

This revival, which began under Mr. Easter and of which 
young McKendree and thousands of others became the happy 
subjects, was a novelty to many. Most of the clergy of the Es- 
tablished Church opposed it publicly and ridiculed it in private. 
The great body of the Church stood aghast at it. It was 
"wildfire," "self-delusion," or "hypocrisy." No doubt hun- 
dreds of honest and conscientious persons thought they were 
doing God service in striving to repress what they regarded as 
a "religious frenzy." In their estimation, Mr. Easter and all 
those who, like him, strove to arouse the torpid consciences of 
sinners and proclaimed a present pardon and an internal 
evidence of that pardon were disturbers of the peace of society 
as well as heretics. To the Churchman both the preacher and 
his matter were offensive, the first wanting the odor of suc- 
cession, the latter, at the same time, condemning his profession, 
his experience, and his practice. To the honest and devout 
Calvinist, having in his mind Calvin's "horrible decree," the 
earnest offer of Christ's death and mediation, as means avail- 
able by faith for the salvation of all men, without distinction 
and without reservation, seemed presumptuous, if not profane; 
so that, in whatever else they disagreed, Churchmen, Calvin- 
ists, and Quakers united in condemning those who seemed to 
be "turning the world upside down." Still the people flocked 
by hundreds and thousands to hear them, and multitudes be- 
came the subjects of this strange work. Their plain, earnest, 
and scriptural appeals to conscience; their solemn and devout 
manners; their disinterestedness and the extraordinary faith 
and dauntless moral courage which Easter and his associates 
exhibited, and, above all, the wonderful power which attended 
their ministry, were well calculated to excite attention. And 
they did excite attention. The private houses, old-field school- 
houses, and the few meetinghouses where circuit preaching had 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 29 

been ordinarily heard were soon found insufficient to contain 
the immense throngs of eager listeners . The barns were resorted 
to, but were soon found to be too small. To the groves, Nature's 
own temples, the crowds repaired. The villages were emptied 
of population; the mechanic laid aside his tools; the farmer 
stopped his plows and mounted his family upon the horses, 
sometimes two and three upon a horse; servants and those who 
could find no other means of conveyance started on foot. The 
roads were crowded. The vicinity of the place of worship was 
covered with horses and vehicles, and thousands gathered 
around the temporary pulpit and held their breath to catch 
every syllable of the man of God. 

Mr. Easter was a man of great purity of life, of a sound 
mind and deep religious feelings, and what he clearly appre- 
hended and strongly felt he spoke with the confidence of one 
who knows he delivers a message from God. He never indulged 
in metaphysical discussions and rarely in doctrinal expositions. 
His themes were repentance, salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, 
and the witness of the Spirit. His preaching was of the experi- 
mental and practical kind, his manner hortative. Those who 
knew him revered and loved him. When, upon such an oc- 
casion as adverted to above, he arose in the immense congrega- 
tion his appearance and manner inspired awe. His piercing 
black eyes, his awful earnestness, and his almost miraculous 
faith arrested every hearer and transfixed the most careless. 
His sentences, in the beginning of his addresses, were short and 
his language solemn and pointed. There was no mannerism 
nor circumlocution. He was full of his subject and intent only 
upon the rescue of sinners from impending wrath. At once he 
went to work invoking the presence and power of God, admon- 
ishing Christians to pray, and when his faith was "mighty," 
assuring them that souls would be converted there that day. 
Then he would begin his appeal to sinners. Their depraved and 
guilty condition, their duty, the necessity for decision, and the 
consequences involved, together with the means and evidences 
of pardon and regeneration, were concisely and overwhelming- 
ly exhibited. His voice was of wondrous pathos and power, 
now soft as an aeolian harp while persuading the hesitating or 
soothing the penitent, anon ringing out like the denunciations 
from Mount Ebal when successive peals of curses reverberated 
against the incorrigibly impenitent; and then again, "in lan- 
guage sweet as angels use," whispering to the believing peni- 
tent blessings richer and more abundant than ever died away 

30 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

in soft and melodious echoes fron Mount Gerizim over the beau- 
tiful Valley of Shechem; and yet his whole manner was natural 
and unstudied. He would have despised himself if he had felt 
conscious that he was aping the orator or seeking aught but the 
salvation of his hearers. His communion with God was too 
intimate to allow any less serious or worthy motive, for he. who 
walks closely with God will be fearfully earnest while pleading 
with man. 

The power of the Almighty attended his efforts. The pious 
portion of his audience sustained him by their prayers and rose 
with him in faith and zeal as he increased in fervor and force, 
until the immense concourse, agitated by the conflicting emo- 
tions of consternation, grief, and joy, at last could restrain 
themselves no longer and gave vent to the long-pent but now 
resistless feelings of their hearts. Some fled with alarm, others 
felt as if impaled, while many fell to the ground as if stricken 
with a sudden bolt from heaven. Many were happily converted 
while he was speaking, until at last some fresh accession to the 
number of penitents, or converts, would so swell the wave of 
emotion that his voice would be drowned; and then mingled 
shouts, prayers, and songs would rise like the paeans of victory 
and the wail of the wounded over a battle field. 

Such were the scenes often witnessed in those days; and let 
others call it confusion, fanaticism, or whatever they may please, 
I believe it to have been the work of God and pray that such 
scenes may never cease in the Methodist Church. And let 
all who revere his memory recollect that Bishop McKendree 
was a subject of this glorious work. Surely his life and his death 
might be regarded as a vindication of such revivals. 


Letter from W. McKendree to Bishop Asbury, in 1803 His conversion 
Entrance on the ministry Joins the Virginia Conference Misled 

by Mr. O'Kelly Returns to the work. 

AMONG the papers of Bishop McKendree is the following 
highly interesting communication. It appears that Bishop 
Asbury had repeatedly urged him to give a narrative in writing, 
of the kind, and it is addressed, therefore, to him, and was 
written in 1803. As it was prepared with some care and gives 
a more minute account of his early life and also of his conver- 
sion, his call to the ministry, and of a very interesting incident 
of his life in connection with the secession of the Rev. James 
O'Kelly than can be found elsewhere, the letter is given in full. 
The reader will pardon the repetition, in substance, of a part 
of the last chapter: 

Respected Friend and Brother: You have repeatedly requested me to 
give you a written, circumstantial account of the dealings of God with my 
soul, my call to the ministry, and some of the most remarkable events of 
my life. Until very lately I have indulged such an aversion to writing 
about myself that I did not intend to comply with your request; but your 
solicitation, having been seconded by others, this, together with a thought 
that my own soul may be quickened thereby, first, by meditating on past 
mercies and blessings while I call to mind my former exercises and God's 
tender mercies and gracious dealings with my soul; and, secondly, should 
you see proper to send it to the press, that I may derive benefit, in future, 
from reading what the lapse of time and trouble might make me forget, 
these considerations have triumphed over my natural aversion to the task. 
I shall therefore attempt a plain and simple narrative, and cast it as my 
mite into the treasury. 

It is now fifteen years that I have been in the traveling ministry, from 
the year 1788 to the present date, in which time I have traveled extensive- 
ly through Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the territory west of the 
Ohio, now State of Ohio; as also some parts of North and South Carolina. 

The first divine impression that I remember to have been under was 
when I was a schoolboy. By reading the exercises and practices of holy 
men as related in the Bible; of their holy lives, prostrating themselves be- 
fore the Lord, praying and conversing with Jehovah, and the Lord God 
speaking to and comforting them, my soul was filled with such a sense of 
his majesty and goodness as awed my feelings into reverence. And I had 
such ideas of the condition of those holy men that my heart glowed to be 
like them. 

I would frequently seek solitary places in the woods, there fall upon my 

32 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

face and weep freely while I thought I was talking to Jehovah. This practice 
I followed until I became so serious that I was taken notice of. The school- 
master, who was a vain man and boarded at my father's, and others began 
to laugh at me and make remarks, and finally laughed me out of all my 
seriousness. I then heedlessly pursued the pleasures of the world and do 
not remember to have had any more serious impressions for several years. 
My own experience has led me to care for those who are under religious 
impressions in their early days. Many are their dangers; great is the 
blessing of proper instructors, and the want of these is, in all probability, 
the cause of much infidelity. 

The next religious impression which I distinctly recollect was occasioned 
by hearing the following verse sung: 

Ye sons of Adam, vain and young, 
Indulge your hearts, indulge your tongue; 
Enjoy the day of mirth, but know 
There is a day of judgment too. 

" The day of judgment " left an impression on my mind. It sunk deeply 
into my thoughts and interrupted my peace for many days, but it gradually 
wore away, and I once more freely enjoyed the pleasures of youth. 

Some time after the Methodist preachers came into the neighborhood, 
a revival of religion took place, my father, mother, and several others be- 
came professors of religion, and many joined the Church. I was then deep- 
ly convinced of sin and resolved to set out and serve the Lord. For some 
time I was very serious, but after a while my religious concern gradually 
abated, and I insensibly glided into the spirit of the world and drank deep- 
er into the practice thereof than I had ever done before. In great com- 
passion the Lord still extended his mercy to me and checked my thought- 
less career by a severe attack of bilious fever. I was brought to view death 
as at the door, all human help seemed to fail. I now viewed myself as 
within a step of eternity, and alas, I was without God! I had no hope of 
future happiness! I was convinced that, dying as I was, I should be 
eternally miserable, and, to complete my astonishment and wretchedness, 
I could not indulge a hope of obtaining mercy in that situation. I con- 
sidered myself as one who had preferred the service of the devil to the en- 
joyment of religion to the very last, and now to ask God to pardon my 
sins and take me to himself when I could serve myself no longer appeared 
to be the most unreasonable thing in the world. 

I therefore utterly despaired of mercy unless God should be graciously 
pleased to raise me up from my bed of affliction and thus grant me an 
opportunity to seek his face. For this I earnestly prayed. While sore be- 
labored with pain, the world appeared insignificant and of trivial conse- 
quence; indeed, could I have purchased peace by giving the whole world, 
the price then seemed to me inconsiderable. But even while it seemed to 
myself that I was so willing to embrace mercy upon any terms, I well re- 
member a thought that threw me into confusion by showing me my error. 
The following idea was suggested: "If the Lord would raise you up and 
convert your soul, would you be willing to go and preach the gospel? " At 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 33 

this nature shrunk, will refused, and I trembled when I found myself indis- 
posed to prompt obedience. 

Yet I continued to plead, and the Lord raised me from the jaws of death, 
"covering the bones with young flesh." But alas, how weak are reso- 
lutions springing from fear! As my strength returned, I lost sight of my 
danger, and the resolution, which I thought was so firm,weakened in pro- 
portion. At last I lost the desire and returned to my old companions and 
the business of the world. 

In this situation I continued until the great revival of religion took 
place in Brunswick Circuit, under Mr. John Easter, in 1787. On a certain 
Sabbath I visited a gentleman who lived in the neighborhood; he and his 
lady were going to church to hear a Mr. Gibson, a local Methodist preacher. 
It was, of course, during the Revolutionary War, when the church was 
open to any occupant, the clergy having abandoned their flocks and the 
country and fled home to England. Upon my going to the house of my 
friend, he declined going to church, sent a servant with his wife, and we 

spent the time in reading a comedy and drinking wine. Mrs. stayed 

late at church, but at last, when we were impatient for dinner, she returned 
and brought strange things to our ears. With astonishment flushing in 
her countenance, she began to tell whom she left "in a flood of tears," 
who were " down on the floor, " who were " converted, " what an "uproar" 
was goimg on among the people, cries for mercy and shouts for joy, etc. 
She also informed us that Mr. John Easter was to preach at that place 
on the following Tuesday. My heart was touched at her representation. 
I resolved to seek religion, and began in good earnest to pray for it that 

Tuesday I went to church, fasting and praying. Mr. Easter preached 
from John in. 19-22: "And this is the condemnation, that light has 
come into the world, " etc. The word reached my heart. From this time 
I had no peace of mind; I was completely miserable. My heart was broken 
up, and I saw that it was evil above all things and "desperately wicked. " 
A view of God's forbearance and of the debasing sin of ingratitude, of 
which I had been guilty in grieving the Spirit of God, overwhelmed me 
with confusion. 

Now my conscience roared like a lion. "The pains of hell got hold of 
me." I concluded that I had committed the "unpardonable sin" and 
had thoughts of giving up all for lost. For three days I might have said: 
" My bed shall comfort me, then thou scarest me with dreams, and terri- 
fiest me through visions, so that my soul chooseth strangling and death 
rather than life." (Job vii. 7-15.) But in the evening of the third day 
deliverance came. While Mr. Easter was preaching, I was praying as 
well as I could, for I was almost ready to despair of mercy. Suddenly 
doubts and fears fled, hope sprang up in my soul, and the burden was re- 
moved. I knew that God was love, that there was mercy even for me, 
and I rejoiced in silence. 

Mr. Easter confidently asserted that God had converted my soul; but 
I did not believe it, for I had formed to myself an idea of conversion, how 


34 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

it would come, and what must follow; and what I then felt did not answer 
to my idea. Therefore I did not believe that I was converted, but I knew 
there was mercy for me, and I greatly rejoiced in that. However, I soon 
found myself in an uncomfortable condition, for I immediately began to 
seek and expect a burden of sin, answerable to my idea, in order to get 
converted. But the burden was gone, and I could not recover it. At 
times I had flashes of joy, yea, felt the life and power of living faith; but 
as soon as I would advert to my conversion, faith would fail, hope lan- 
guish, and comfort die, because I doubted my conversion. With desire 
I sought rest, but I thought that greater distress than I had felt must pre- 
cede that blessing, and therefore refused to be comforted. And thus, sir, 
for several weeks I experienced all the anguish of grasping at an object 
of the greatest importance, and missing my aim, of laying hold of life and 
salvation, then falling back into the vortex of disappointment and dis- 
tress, until I may say I was as a lone "sparrow on the housetop"; "my 
teeth chattered like a swallow, my bones were pierced in me in the night 
season, and my sinews took no rest." (Job xxx. 17.) 

But deliverance was at hand. Mr. Easter came round, and his Master 
came with him, and in the time of meeting the Lord, who is merciful and 
kind, blessed me with the witness of the Spirit; and then, sir, I could re- 
joice indeed, yes, with joy unspeakable and full of glory! 

Within twenty-four hours after this I was twice tempted to think my 
conversion was delusive and not genuine, because I did not receive the 
witness of the Spirit at the same time. 

But I instantly applied to the throne of grace and, in the duty of prayer, 
the Lord delivered me from the enemy, and from that day to this I have 
never doubted my conversion. I have pitied, and do still pity, those who, 
under the influence of certain doctrines, are led to give the preference to 
a doubting experience, and therefore can only say, "If I ever was convert- 
ed," "I hope I am converted," "I fear I never was converted," etc., but 
can never say: "We know that we have passed from death unto life." In 
this respect, "darkness, in part, has happened to Zion," but I hope the 
time is not far distant when truth and religion shall triumph over error 
and form. 

Not long after I had confidence in my acceptance with God, Mr. Gibson 
preached us a sermon on sanctification, and I felt its weight. When Mr. 
Easter came, he enforced the same doctrines. This led me more minutely 
to examine the emotions of my heart. I found remaining corruption, em- 
braced the doctrine of sanctification, and diligently sought the blessing it 
holds forth. The more I sought the blessing of sanctification, the more I 
felt the need of it and the more important did that blessing appear. In its 
pursuit, my soul grew in grace and in the faith that overcomes the world. 
But there was an aching void which made me cry: 

"Tis worse than death my God to love, 
And not my God alone. 

One morning I walked into the field, and while I was musing such an 
overwhelming power of the Divine Being overshadowed me as I had never 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 35 

experienced before. Unable to stand, I sunk to the ground, more than 
filled with transport. My cup ran over, and I shouted aloud. 

Had it not been for a new set of painful exercises which now came upon 
me, I might have rejoiced "evermore"; but my heart was enlarged, and I 
saw more clearly than ever before the danger of an unconverted state. For 
such persons I prayed with anxious care. At times, when called upon to 
pray in public, my soul would get into an agony and the Lord would, in 
great compassion, pour out his Spirit; souls were convicted and converted, 
and Zion rejoiced abundantly in those days. Without a thought of preach- 
ing, I began to tell my acquaintances what the Lord had done for me and 
could do for them. It had its effect, and lasting impressions were made. 
Thus I was imperceptibly led on until the preachers and people began to 
urge me to speak more publicly. This brought on a painful affliction 
of mind. 

While I have meditated on the subject with a disposition to submit, 
if it was the will of the Lord to call me to preach, the Scriptures have 
opened to my mind and presented me with such lively pictures of virtue and 
vice, and their consequences, as would fill me with " painful joy and pleasing 
smart"; and I would be almost ready to say: "Here am I, send me." 
But when I would reflect on appearing in public with the qualifications 
which I possessed, I felt deeply humbled and greatly discouraged. The 
importance of the cause, and what it might suffer from an incompetent 
and an injudicious advocate, made me fear that my exercises were not from 
God, that he never would call such a creature as I was to preach his gospel. 
Thus worried and distressed, I have fallen on my knees and with many 
tears begged the Lord to take me to heaven and so put an end to the doubt- 
ful case. My mind was entirely diverted from my temporal concerns 
and wholly devoted to the subject of religion. 

On a certain day, as I sat at a table, my father stepped in and addressed 
me thus: "William, has not the Lord called you to preach the gospel?" I 
answered: "I cannot tell; I do not know what a call to preach the gospel 
implies." He added: "I believe he has, and I charge you not to quench 
the Spirit." For a moment I was as one thunderstruck. We both shed 
tears. I asked him why he thought the Lord had called me to preach the 
gospel. He answered: "While you lay sick of the fever" alluding to 
my illness already mentioned "when the doctor and all your friends 
had given you up for lost, I was greatly afflicted at the thought of your dy- 
ing in your sins. I applied myself to the throne of grace and prayed in- 
cessantly. While I was on my knees, the Lord manifested himself to me 
in an uncommon manner, and gave me am assurance that you should live 
to preach the gospel, and I have never lost my confidence, although you 
have been too careless. " He then repeated his caution not to quench the 

In this undetermined condition of mind I continued until it pleased the 
Lord to lay me upon a bed of affliction. Mr. Easter visited me. On the 
next day, when they were about starting to meeting, he prayed for me, not 
as men gdherally pray, but in a manner and with a zeal peculiar to himself. 

36 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Under his prayer I was blessed; my soul was filled with joy. He proceeded 
to tell the Lord that "the harvest was great, but the laborers were few, " 
that I had been urged by the Spirit, but had refused to obey. He prayed 
the Lord to raise me up, and thrust me into his vineyard. I recovered; and 
from that time I spoke more frequently and freely in public, and the Lord 
condescended to encourage me by blessing both my hearers and myself. 

In the ninth month after I received the witness of my acceptance, the 
District Conference came on. It was held in Petersburg, Va. Mr. Easter 
requested me to fix myself and attend the Conference. I did so, and he 
kindly took me to his lodging. Upon his going to the Conference room, 
he invited me to come up at a certain hour and see the preachers. I went 
accordingly, and the first thing after prayer was to read out the preachers' 
stations; and you announced that I was appointed to Mecklenburg Circuit, 
with Philip Cox. 

This, I confess sir, was an unexpected shock; but your gentle manner 
of proceeding with the young preachers presently restored me to a degree 
of ease. When dismissed, I was walking in another room when my presid- 
ing elder came in and, discovering my agitation, took me in his arms and 
said: "While you were standing before the Conference, I believe God 
showed me that he had a work for you to do," and repeated, "Don't de- 
ceive me," in the most feeling manner. This, sir, had the most happy 
effect. It determined my unsettled mind. I only wanted to know what 
was right to do it as well as I could. I had the fullest confidence in the 
preachers, and in reflecting upon the character and judgment of those 
who had recommended me and of the Conference who had admitted me, 
strengthened by what the presiding elder with flowing tears had just said 
to me, I resolved to reject my doubts, submit to their judgment, take the 
work to which I was appointed, and fill my place as well as I could. Thus 
for more than eight months of painful suspense my heart was "fixed," 
and I set out for my circuit. 

But before I enter upon the ensuing part of my own history, suffer me 
to make some observations on what I have witnessed respecting my much 
loved friend and father in the gospel, John Easter. 

When Mr. Easter came to Brunswick Circuit, there was very little ap- 
pearance of religion in our neighborhood. Upon his coming, a revival 
took place, and in the course of the year about two hundred and fifty 
joined the Church within ten miles of where we resided, and about eighteen 
hundred were added in the circuit. 1 Mr. Easter possessed an uncommon 

'Bishop McKendree leaves the number blank, and it is filled from the following authority: 

"The year 1787 is gratefully remembered in the Methodist history of Virginia for the most 
extensive and glorious revival of religion that ever occurred in the State." "The accounts which 
have come down to us of that powerful manifestation of the Spirit represent it as almost miracu- 
lous." "But although the work of the Lord was generally revived, its most powerful manifesta- 
tions seem to have been .on fined to the district over which the Rev. James O'Kelly presided, 
and in this district the most powerful displays of spiritual influence were witnessed in the Bruns- 
wick, Sussex, and Amelia Circuits. In each of these circuits great multitudes were turned to the 
Lord. In Sussex Circuit about sixteen hundred were converted; in Brunswick, about eighteen 
hundred; and in Amelia, about eight hundred." Life and Times of the Rev. Jesse Lee, pp. t04, 
MS; alto, History of tht Methodist Episcopal Church, by Dr. Bangs, Vol. I, pp. i6S-S67. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 37 

degree of faith. It was objected to him that "instead of praying, he com- 
manded God, as if the Lord was to obey man." The following is a speci- 
men of what I was an eyewitness. While preaching to a large concourse 
of people in the open air, at a time of considerable drought, it began to 
thunder, a cloud approached, and drops of rain fell. He stopped preach- 
ing and besought the Lord to withhold the rain until evening, to pour 
out his Spirit, convert the people, and then water the earth. He then 
resumed his subject. The appearance of rain increased, the people 
began to get uneasy, some moved to take off their saddles; when, in his 
peculiar manner, he told the Lord that there were "sinners there that must 
be converted or be damned," and prayed that he would "stop the bottles 
of heaven until the evening." He closed his prayer and assured us in the 
most confident manner that we might keep our seats, that it would not 
rain to wet us; that "souls are to be converted here to-day, my God assures 
me of it, and you may believe it." The congregation became composed, 
and we did not get wet; for the clouds parted, and although there was a 
fine rain on both sides of us, there was none where we were until night. 
The Lord's Spirit was poured out in an uncommon degree, many were 
convicted, and a considerable number professed to be converted that day. 
Mr. Easter excited great attention. Hundreds, and sometimes thou- 
sands, attended his appointments. Frequently while he was preaching 
the foundations of the place would seem to be shaken and the people to 
be moved like the trees of the forest when shaken by a mighty tempest. 
Many were "the slain of the Lord, " and many were made spiritually alive. 
If my memory serves me, four hundred were converted at a four days' 
meeting. But Satan's kingdom did not suffer this loss without a struggle. 
Powerful, and sometimes fierce, was the opposition Mr. Easter had to con- 
tend with; but the Lord gave him grace according to his day. In the midst 
of a congregation, a man stepped to Mr. Easter, caught him by the bosom, 
and raised a horsewhip over his head. In that position, a few words 
passed between them. Mr. Easter began to pray, but when his prayer was 
ended his antagonist was gone. Mr. Easter. proceeded with his meeting 
without further interruption. 

On another occasion he reproved a man who was at a few yards' dis- 
tance on an elevated seat in the congregation. The man, as afterwards 
appeared, had covenanted to abuse the preacher, and for this purpose 
had armed himself with a club, which he shook at the preacher. Another 
and a sharper reproof followed. The enraged man approached Mr. Easter, 
brandishing his weapon, with vengeance flashing in his countenance. The 
preacher calmly said, "I regard the spilling of my blood for the sake of 
Christ no more than the bite of a fly, " but warned the furious man of the 
most awful consequences on his own part. The man was near enough to 
strike him, but Mr. Easter dared him to strike, telling him what God 
would do if he laid the weight of his hand upon him. The man's coun- 
tenance changed, he presently turned round and walked off. "I tcld you 
the devil is a coward," said Mr. Easter, as the crestfallen man withdrew. 

38 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

These, sir, may serve as specimens of the displays of divine power which 
attended the ministry of that dear friend of ours. 

In 1788 I was appointed to Mecklenburg Circuit. This was a fortunate 
station for me. Mr. Cox, with whom I was appointed to travel, was an 
instructor and father to me. The old professors knew how to sympa- 
thize with young preachers. It looked to me like they wished to bear a 
part of the cross for me. In this circuit there were many deeply expe- 
rienced Christians, by whose walk and conversation I profited much. I 
hope I shall never forget how sweetly they used to talk of the triumphs 
of grace and the love of Jesus. After a sufficient trial, I expected 
the preachers would be convinced that I never would make a profitable 
preacher, that I should by that means return to the comforts which I had 
left behind. But the year rolled round, and I was "continued on trial." 
The dear people seemed unwilling to part with me, for we had spent some 
sweet moments together. 

In 1789 I took my station in Cumberland Circuit, Virginia, where 
I traveled part of the year, and then was moved by the presiding elder 
to Mecklenburg, an adjoining circuit, where I traveled the year before. 

During this year my doubts with regard to my call to the ministry 
subsided in a great measure. I began to enjoy a tolerable degree of com- 
fort in my calling. The members of the Church were very kind, and we 
saw, in some degree, the fruit of our labor. The old members were quick- 
ened and new ones added. 

But a painful affliction of another nature arose. A divisive spirit began 
to torment us. Methodism had progressed beyond all expectation. The 
few Church regulations which were adapted to the infant state of the 
Church would by no means cover all the cases that a rapid increase of 
preachers and people brought forth. The year before, a delegated number 
had been appointed to form regulations to meet our present difficulties. 1 
They had met. Our presiding elder (James O'Kelly) was one of the num- 
ber. And they had unanimously agreed to a plan which was to be laid 
before the Conferences of the year to be adopted or rejected. But before 
the Conference came on, Mr. O'Kelly changed his mind and began, in 
our private interviews, to inform me of the imminent danger of near- 
approaching ruin which our then flourishing Church would in all proba- 
bility suffer; that this mischief had itself a cause, which, according to un- 
equivocal indications, was the want of religion in a party of leading charac- 
ters in the ministry, yourself, sir, at the head of them, whose unbounded 
thirst for power and money, as I understood him, was to pull down de- 
struction on the Church of God. 

I then had, and still have, a tender regard for the prosperity of Zion, 
and watched whatever I thought would injure her with a jealous eye. I 
examined what our delegates had done, and formed the best judgment 
I could, according to my information, and disapproved of the plan. This 
gave weight to the private representation of my presiding elder. 

lTh Council. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 39 

On my way to the Conference in Petersburg, I fell in company with 
him and several other preachers, who held a consultation on the way and 
also after we reached town, and pretty well determined the business before 
it came up for action in the Conference. However, you arrived and laid 
that business before us. The result was, as you very well know, we re- 
jected it altogether and refused to adopt any accommodating plan. 

But I was somewhat disappointed; for, instead of breaking out like a 
tyrant, you proposed us all for deacon's orders. We elected each other, 
and the greater number of the preachers of that district were ordained 
to the office of deacon and appointed to the several circuits, with our former 
presiding elder at our head, on the south side of James River. 

In 1790 I was appointed to travel with Jesse Nicholson on Portsmouth 
Circuit, but was removed and spent the latter part of the year with 
William Spencer on Surry Circuit. This was a year of much comfort 
to my soul. I found an affectionate people indeed; many were deeply ex- 
perienced saints, who were a blessing to me. "As iron sharpeneth iron," 
so did the conversation of those brethren provoke me to love and good 
works. I found father, mother, brother, and sister indeed and in truth. 
It was my meat and drink to employ my spare moments in study. Fast- 
ing and prayer was a pleasure. I had an almost uninterrupted heaven 
below. The work of the Lord prospered in our hands, particularly in the 
latter part of the year. A considerable number of members was added 
to the societies. When elders rule well, they are to be counted worthy 
of double honor and esteemed very highly in love for their work's sake. 
But alas, my greatest affliction in those days came from where I ought 
to have had comfort! When my old friend (Mr. O'K.) visited us, much 
of the spare time was taken up in private communication and consulta- 
tion, the subject matter of which was "the manners of a party which 
more and more manifested the badness of their pol cy and principles, and 
must," as he said, "sooner or later inevitably ruin the Church of Godr" 
The result was a proclamation summoning all the preachers to meet in 
Mecklenburg on a certain day. 

It was in the interval of Conference and was a new thing among us; but 
the occasion was thought to be of such importance as to justify it. We 
met according to order and formed a council. Our elder told us much. 
He met with some opposition, but this gave much pain. A conclusion was 
formed in opposition to the offensive " party," and our old friend thought 
the preachers left much united, with one or two exceptions, who were 
supposed to be "creatures of the party." Our demand was a General 

I really loved God and sought the welfare of his Church and was there- 
fore disposed to listen to her complaints. The old gentleman (Mr. O'K.) 
I looked upon as her friend, her mouth, and so great was my confidence 
in him that his word was next to gospel with me. I heard him, and be- 
lieved what I heard. Upon hearing one side of the story only, so far as I 
received the report, I had to give up my confidence in the " party preach- 
ers," or the "bishop and his creatures," as they were called. 

40 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Perhaps you may remember that about this time I informed you that I 
had lost confidence in yourself. At least, I shall never forget your answer, 
which was: "I do not wonder at that, brother; sometimes we can see with 
our eyes, sometimes we can see only with our ears." 

But, alas! with the loss of confidence, I began insensibly to lose my love 
for "the bishop and his creatures," in reality, my best friends, misrepre- 
sented, which prepares the way and leads into the worst of miseries. And 
this, sir, I conceive to be one of the broadest, foulest blots of the schismatic 
spirit. For " God is love, and whoso dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and 
God in him." And "by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, 
because ye love one another." But love began to fail. 

At the next Conference (1791) I was stationed on Amelia Circuit. Here, 
as well as I remember, our Conference was changed from the spring, and 
the next was appointed to meet on Christmas holiday. I have nothing of 
particular importance to remark on this station. I enjoyed peace of mind 
and comfortable fellowship with those among whom I kbored. We began 
to have some hope of a General Conference to adjust our conflicting opin- 
ions, and our fears began to subside. 

December, 1791. Conference met at Lane's Chapel. Peace seemed to 
gladden our hearts. We were informed that a General Conference was to 
meet the following November, that differences were adjusted, and our old 
friend was satisfied. 

I expect you have not forgotten the joy that appeared in the Confer- 
ence among the young preachers. Here I was ordained to the office of an 
elder and appointed to Greenville Circuit, which went through my old 
neighborhood. This was the first station that I felt my will opposed to. 
It fixed me in the midst of my old acquaintances, many of whom were in 
our societies before me and considered themselves my superiors. It was 
a sifting time in those parts, and I expected some of them would have to be 
excluded. This I feared they would not bear from me, which was the 
cause of my unwillingness to go to that circuit. But in this I was disap- 
pointed. I believe I never went through the buisness of a circuit with more 
ease. Although many were turned out, there were no fixed prejudices in 
consequence of the administration, that I know of. True, we had but few 
additions to the Church this year, yet we had many sweet and precious 
meetings. The work of sanctification revived. While I was preaching 
from "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth," a local preach- 
er cried aloud for the blessing. When I came to that place again, he pro- 
fessed to be sanctified and zealously and profitably enforced the doctrine. 
I went home with him from meeting. He conversed of death as a thing 
familiar and at hand. He professed to have only one wish, which was 
that he might be favored with a quick passage from this to the other 
world. He was a smith by trade. I parted with him to see him no more. 
Before I returned again, he was killed by a flash of lightning in the pres- 
ence of several persons while standing over his fire. Thus the Lord granted 
his desire and took him to rest. 

Happily disappointed in my expected troubles on this circuit, blessed 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 41 

with refreshing showers of grace, and, as I thought, with peace among our- 
selves, our old friend came round. Our hearts were glad at the sight. 
But instead of confirming the peace we were told of at the last Conference 
and training me up in the way I ought to go, alas! the old subject was in- 
troduced, and I was informed that you were not sincere in the peace con- 
cluded; that it was a political contrivance, the real design being to gratify 
your ambition by a method which was to ruin the Church. I was unfortu- 
nate enough to believe the report, and from this time counteracting meas- 
ures were consulted. 

In November, 1792, the General Conference came on. Soon after I 
left my circuit to attend it, I fell in company with our elder and one or two 
others. At Colonel Clayton's the number increased. William Spencer 
and S. Cowles were sent forward, only two were permitted to continue in 
company with the elder. I was one of the favored number. We arrived 
at the seat of the General Conference and were appointed to lodge to- 
gether. Conference commenced. Division of sentiment indeed! Our 
lodging room was a council chamber. Evil was determined against the 
connection, justified by the supposition that the bishop and his creatures 
were working the ruin of the Church to gratify their pride and ambition. 

The old gentlemen broke off. I and some others obtained liberty of the 
Conference to return home and set out for Virginia. We had many con- 
sultations, were often confused in our deliberations, and, the rest of the 
company having left us, the old gentleman and myself traveled the great- 
er part of the way together. He unfolded his plan. It was to be "a 
glorious Church," "no slavery," etc. 

But it was founded upon the supposition that a ruinous government was 
being introduced by the revolutionizing Conference he had left. The 
supposed design of the bishop answered to the root, and the more ingenious 
of our cabinet discovered the trunk and all the branches of this tree. It 
was "dark," it was "popery!" It was a horrible thing! 

But different conclusions followed. One S. D. resolved to attend the 
approaching District Conference and take his station. Three broke off 
from the connection and set up in opposition to it. Neither of these 
methods would satisfy me. I therefore refused to take a regular station at 
Conference, because I expected to reject the "monstrous system" when 
it should appear, but met you and the presiding elder a few days after 
Conference and took a station. 

I was stationed in the city of Norfolk; and how was I surprised, in 
the course of the year, to find the form of discipline entirely different from 
what I had expected and also to find just cause to begin to withdraw my 
confidence from my old and best-beloved friend! Now I began to feel 
like one out at sea without a compass. Urged by my professed friend to 
leave my station and not appear at Conference and shot at by some of my 
real but injudicious friends, my condition was delicate and unpleasant. 
But Ira Ellis, my presiding elder, was a comfort to me. From him I ob- 
tained information and counsel which were of inestimable value to me in 

42 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

my dilemma. In fine, it is my opinion that the Church is much indebted to 
Infinite Goodness for a man of his wisdom and prudence at that day. 

On this critical station the Lord was singularly good to me. In the 
midst of my confusion I had access to the throne of grace and was enabled 
to preach. Mercy and power attended the Word, and the people were 
blessed; so that I had refreshing cordials in the midst of many bitter 


Mr. McKendree joins the Virginia Conference, 1787 Appointed to 
Mecklenburg Circuit Burchett, Massie, Valentine Cook, and John 
McGee admitted the same time Numbers in Society Conference of 
1789 Cumberland Circuit Conference of 1790 Ordained deacon 
The Council a failure Appointed to Portsmouth Circuit Rev. D. 
Jarratt Extracts from Diary. 

EVERY genuine conversion to God is characterized by love to 
God and man; and as the first leads to adoration and filial 
obedience to the divine will, so the second induces an earnest 
desire for the welfare of others and efforts to do them good. 
They are at once the evidence of Christian experience and the 
guarantee of practical goodness. The demonstration of their 
existence and of their divine origin is seen in the purity of the 
lives of those who profess conversion, for "every man that hath 
this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." These 
traits of regeneration were exhibited by young McKendree. 
In the artless narrative given from his own pen, in the preceding 
chapter, we have had portrayed his conviction, conversion, 
and sanctification. Shortly after his profession of religion, he 
began to converse with his friends and associates, telling them 
what God had done for his soul and persuading them to come to 
Christ. He could not be silent or idle. Christ was so precious, 
religion so important, and sin so ruinous, he must speak and 
work. Fealty to God and duty to his neighbor demanded it. 
Soon he was found taking part in the public religious exercises, 
such as prayer meetings, love feasts, and class meetings. Fruits 
of his labors began to appear; many were convicted and con- 
verted. Presently his mind became painfully excited upon the 
subject of preaching; and the fact that many of his most devoted 
and intelligent friends, both in the laity and among the preach- 
ers, believed he was called of God to the ministry, increased this 
excitement. Mr. Easter, his spiritual father, fully concurred 
in this sentiment and urged him to go with him around the cir- 
cuit. He yielded and started, but became so increasingly 
fearful lest he should go without the divine warrant for his mis- 
sion that he gave way to his fears and returned home before the 
round was completed. Deeply did he love the cause of God, but 
so humble were his views of his fitness for the holy office, that he 
shrunk from it. He had been taught to associate a classical 

44 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

education and a theological training with the exercise of the 
ministry. He had only an English education. 

And then the responsibilities of the ministry were alarming to 
his sensitive and modest mind. Afraid to go forward, and yet 
dreading the result of refusing to do so, he was, to use his own 
language, "tossed to and fro." While in this distressed state 
of mind, the Virginia Conference came on, and, unable to at- 
tend to business on account of the anguish of his spirit, he went 
to Petersburg, the seat of the Conference. He had been con- 
verted only about nine months and had no formal recom- 
mendation. The preachers and presiding elder, who knew him 
well, recommended him for admission on trial in the itinerant 
work. The Conference session was held with closed doors, and 
he seems not to have been aware of the result. At the close of 
the Conference, the doors were thrown open and visitors entered 
the room, he among the rest. Bishop Asbury, after his usual 
concise and solemn address to the preachers, proceeded to read 
out the appointments, and William McKendree was announced 
for Mecklenburg Circuit. This was certainly a summary 
process, for there is no evidence that he had either been recom- 
mended to the Conference by the society or licensed as a local 
preacher. And as he never located, he never was a local 

After a severe mental struggle, and with many misgivings as 
to his call and fitness for the work, he determined to undertake 
it; and having resolved to make the attempt, with an humble 
and trembling heart he entered at once upon its duties. His 
name therefore appears for the first time in the General Minutes 
as having been "received on trial" in the Virginia Conference 
in 1788. The following is his own statement of his feelings at 
this period : 

I went immediately to the circuit to which I was appointed, relying 
more upon the judgment of experienced ministers in whom I confided 
than in any clear convictions of my call to the work; and when I yielded 
to their judgment, I determined not to deceive them, but to retire so soon 
as I should be convinced that I was not called of God, and to conduct my- 
self in such a manner that, if I failed, my friends might be satisfied it was 
not for want of effort on my part, but that their judgment was not well 
founded. This resolution supported me under many doubts and fears, for 
entering upon the work of a traveling preacher neither removed my 
doubts nor the difficulties that attended my labors. Sustained by a 
resolution to make a full trial, I resorted to fasting and prayer and waited 
for the kind friends who had charge of me to dismiss me from the work. 
But I wailed in vain. In this state of suspense my reasoning might have 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 45 

terminated in discouraging and ruinous conclusions had I not been com- 
forted and sustained by the manner my aged and experienced brethren 
received me, by the manifest presence of God in our meetings, and by 
communion with my Saviour in private devotion. In this way I became 
satisfied, at last, of my call to the ministry, and that I was moving in the 
line of duty. 

The Rev. M. Thrift, of Petersburg, Va., among several inci- 
dents in the life of Mr. McKendree, with which he has kindly 
favored the writer, gives the following facts: "The first sermon 
ever preached by him was at the house of Robert Venable, in 
the county of Prince Edward. During his first year's labor, he 
was much depressed in spirits and was on the point of relin- 
quishing his work as an itinerant, but his friends, and especially 
the Venables, encouraged him to go on. He was greatly be- 
loved wherever he labored. One great cause why he obtained 
such a firm hold upon the affections of the people was his mild 
and conciliating manners." 

James 0' Kelly was his first presiding elder, and Philip Cox, 
who had charge of the circuit, was his first colleague. Mr. 
Cox seems to have been an excellent man and proved a great 
blessing to his less experienced associate. His piety, prudence, 
amiability, and perseverance were of inestimable importance in 
forming the habits and molding the character of his junior 
brother. He was fortunate also in having his first year's work 
among such a community as he found on Mecklenburg Circuit. 

The prominent members of the Church sympathized with 
him, esteemed him highly, and sustained him by their counsels 
and their prayers. His fears and doubts began gradually to 
subside. The conviction deepened in his mind that to preach 
the gospel was essential to his own happiness, and as he was 
constrained to believe that his efforts were crowned with the 
blessing of God in the conversion of souls his feelings became 
much relieved as to his duty before the year closed. 

The whole number of Methodists in America when Mr. Mc- 
Kendree joined them, white and colored, was only about 
twenty-five thousand. The following year (1788) added fifty 
per cent to this number, giving the result of the glorious revival 
in Virginia. The number of preachers increased nearly in the 
same proportion ; forty-eight were admitted on trial at this Con- 

His first year's work closed. God had been with him, and his 
charge was reluctant to part with him. The agony of his mind 
was subsiding, the clouds were beginning to give place to sun- 

46 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

shine, and his heart was becoming satisfied to work, and, if need 
be, to suffer and die in the Lord's vineyard. 

Among the number admitted on trial with Mr. McKendree 
at the Conference in 1788 were Henry Burchett, Peter Massie, 
Valentine Cook, and John McGee, all of whom, like himself, 
were, in after years, laborers in the West. The first two, after 
having toiled and suffered for a few years in the western fron- 
tiers, died in the work, and died in great peace. The remains of 
the first repose in an old graveyard, overgrown with briars and 
bushes, in the midst of a large field about three miles below 
Nashville, Tenn. Some kind hand erected a simple tombstone 
and inscribed it with his initials. His biography says of him, 
and it is among the earliest found in the Minutes: "He was a 
gracious, happy, useful man, who freely offered himself for 
four years' service on the dangerous stations of Kentucky and 
Cumberland. He was one among the worthies who freely left 
ease, safety, and prosperity to seek after and suffer faithfully 
for souls. His meekness, love, labors, prayers, tears, sermons, 
and exhortations will not be soon forgotten." He died in 1794. 

Mr. Massie also died near Nashville, and his resting place is 
about three miles southwest of that city. After laboring faith- 
fully in the ministry for three years, "he obtained what he de- 
sired, a sudden death, by falling from his seat" and immediate- 
ly expiring. He was a deeply afflicted, devout, and useful man. 

Valentine Cook, after traveling in the Virginia Conference 
several years, came to Kentucky and was a remarkably devoted 
and useful preacher. He was a learned man, rather eccentric 
in his manners, mighty in the Scriptures, and labored exten- 
sively and very successfully in planting Methodism in the West. 
His memory is a sweet savor throughout the region of his labors. 
The author has reason to remember him and to revere and love 
him. He sleeps in the soil of Kentucky. 

John McGee was one of the principal instruments of the great 
revival of 1800 in the West and was distinguished by his sternly 
simple manners, his purity of life, and the power of his appeals 
to the heart. He was father-in-law to Thomas Logan Douglass, 
and died at an advanced age in Smith County, Tenn., greatly 
and justly respected. 

Such were the men with whom Mr. McKendree entered the 
ministry. That band, remarkable for their primitive simplicity 
of deportment, their gravity, zeal, and fidelity to their mission, 
have all passed away; their privations, toils, and persecutions 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 47 

are over. The battle was a hard one, but it is ended, and they 
have the victory which insures an eternity of bliss. 

At the Virginia Conference, held in Petersburg, and which 
began April 20, 1789, Bishops Coke and Asbury were both pres- 
ent. Mr. McKendree received his appointment to the Cumber- 
land Circuit, with John Barker in charge as his colleague and 
James 0' Kelly for his elder. His field of labor lay on James 
River, and principally in Washington County, Va. This seems 
to have been a very agreeable circuit, and he found here many 
kind friends and was generally warmly received. But, as was 
customary at that period, he was taken from that circuit after 
he had been there six months and was returned to Mecklenburg, 
the scene of his labors during the previous year. This fact is 
evidence of the error of the tradition which represents him as 
having been an unacceptable young preacher, inasmuch as his 
presiding elder would not have reappointed him to the same 
field of labor where he must have known he would not be well 
received and consequently not useful. 

We have, however, but little reliable information as to his 
course during this year. That he was a close and methodical 
student, punctual to all his engagements, and devoted to his 
work, none will doubt who knew him. With characteristic 
modesty, he confesses that he was not only treated with marked 
kindness by his charge, but that he "saw fruit of his labors." 
One important fact is clearly developed in his history, that 
during this year he became fully satisfied that it was his duty 
to preach the gospel and that he dismissed all those harassing 
fears which had tormented his mind upon this subject. Hence- 
forth we shall find him unreservedly and cheerfully giving all 
his energies of soul and body to his holy vocation, until he 
"ceased at once to work and live." 

The Conference was again held at Petersburg, in 1790, and 
began on June 14. Here he was admitted into full con- 
nection, and ordained a deacon. 1 Mr. Asbury, in his Journal, 

J The following is a copy of the original certificate of his ordination: 
Know all Men by these Presents, That I, Francis Asbury, Bishop of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, under the protection of Almighty God, and 
with a Single Eye to his Glory, by the Imposition of my Hands, and 
Prayer, did, on the day of the date hereof, set apart 


for the office of a Deacon in the said Methodist Episcopal Church a man 
whom we judge to be well qualified for that work; and do hereby recom- 

48 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

says of this Conference: "All was peace until the council was 
mentioned. The young men appeared to be entirely under the 
control of the elders and turned it out of doors. I was weary 
and felt but little freedom to speak on the subject. This 
business is to be explained to every preacher; and then it must 
be carried through the Conferences twenty-four times that is, 
through all the Conferences for two years." 

The council here alluded to had been originated the year be- 
fore and was designed as a remedy for two difficulties: (1) The 
great extension of the work rendered it quite inconvenient for 
all the preachers to meet together annually. (2) Each Con- 
ference claimed the right of a distinct and separate power and 
regarded nothing as binding except the ordination and station- 
ing of the preachers unless sanctioned by all the Conferences. 
The condition of the Conferences was somewhat similar to that 
which the several States of our Confederacy held to each other 
before the adoption of the Federal Constitution. The various 
Conferences, although allied to each other by agreement as to 
creed and the moral and religious objects of Methodism and also 
by recognizing the authority of the bishops as chief pastors in 
conferring ordination and making the appointments, claimed 
and exercised supreme control upon all questions not expressly 
intrusted to the bishops and the General Conference. As a 
matter of course, no rule or regulation affecting the general 
interests of the Church or the itinerancy could be made, changed, 
or repealed, nor could any new enterprise be attempted, until 
it had been agreed to and adopted by each Annual Conference. 
To avoid these serious inconveniences and promote unity and 
efficiency, the plan was adopted to hold a council, consisting of 
not less than nine, of which the bishops and the presiding elders 
throughout the connection should be members. This general 
council, representing the whole work, was invested with "au- 
thority to mature everything they shall judge expedient. (1) 
To preserve the general union. (2) To render and preserve the 
external form of worship similar throughout the connection. 
(3) To preserve the essentials of Methodist doctrines and dis- 

mend him to all whom it may concern, as a proper Person to administer 
the ordinance of Baptism, Marriage, and the Burial of the Dead, in the 
absence of an Elder; and to feed the Flock of Christ, so long as his Spirit 
and Practice are such as become the Gospel. In Testimony whereof I 
have hereunto set my Hand and Seal, this fifteenth day of June, 
One thousand seven hundred and ninety. 


Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 49 

cipline pure and uncorrupted. (4) To correct all abuses and 
disorders. And, lastly, to mature everything they may see 
necessary for the good of the Church and for promoting and 
improving our colleges and plan of education." This plan, in 
the absence of a delegated General Conference, which seems not 
yet to have been thought of, was certainly an improvement upon 
the state of things previously existing. But unfortunately there 
was a provision in the plan which not only required unanimity 
in the council, but which, moreover, declared that "nothing so 
assented to by the council shall be binding in any district until 
it has been agreed upon by a majority of the Conference held 
for that district." These provisions neutralized the utility of 
the whole arrangement. By requiring all the acts of the council 
to be adopted by the District Conferences nothing was gained, 
as to time, over the old system. And as unanimity could scarce- 
ly be expected among so large a number of independent bodies 
in reference to complicated measures connected with the inter- 
ests of a Church spreading over the continent, there was like- 
wise no increased security for the harmonious and effective 
cooperation of the whole body. The object of these unfortunate 
provisions was a laudable desire to maintain Conference rights; 
but it was done at the sacrifice of union and energy. The 
manner by which the objects of its authors was sought to be 
secured rendered the plan liable to attacks and exposed them 
to the shafts of the captious. As a political arrangement, it was 
a blunder, being not at all adapted to the necessities of the 
Church or the spirit of the times. It attempted to unite, with- 
out any sinister design on the part of its pure-minded advocates, 
the aristocratic with the most unlimited democratic element. 
A "maturing council," composed of bishops and their ap- 
pointees, was the aristocratic principle; the purely democratic 
feature was found in the fact that each District Conference had 
an unqualified veto power. This plan might answer for the 
Independents and for all who adopt the Congregational system 
of Church government, but could only result in discord and 
disaster in a Church which seeks to accomplish the benevolent 
mission of Christianity by a concentration of her influence. 

In justice to Mr. Asbury and those who concurred with that 
sagacious and pure-hearted man in recommending this measure, 
it should be stated that at first all the Conferences received the 
plan with approbation, and, under a different state of things and 
with some modifications, it would have been a very useful ar- 

50 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

rangement; but after two years' trial it was abandoned by com- 
mon consent. 

The first session of this council was held at Cokesbury, on 
December 1, 1789, consisting of Richard Ivy, from Georgia; 
R. Ellis, South Carolina; E. Morris, North Carolina; Philip 
Bruce, Northern District of Virginia; James O'Kelly, Southern 
District of Virginia; L. Green, Ohio; Nelson Reid, Western 
Shore, Maryland; J. Everett, Eastern Shore; John Dickens, 
Pennsylvania; J. 0. Cromwell, New Jersey; and Freeborn 
Garrettson, New York. Bishop Asbury says: "All our business 
was done in harmony and love." " The concerns of the college," 
"the printing business," "economy," "union," "funds for our 
suffering preachers on the western frontiers," etc., were sub- 
jects discussed and acted on at this meeting; and no doubt their 
action was wise and necessary. But alas! we hpve already seen 
how easily all their schemes were rendered abortive by the 
action of the Virginia Conference. 

There is much significance in the laconic remark of Bishop 
Asbury, attributing the defeat of the "council" to the influence 
of the elders over the young preachers. We have already seen 
that Mr. James O'Kelly was a member of this council, was pres- 
ent at its session, and sanctioned its suggestions. But, un- 
fortunately for his reputation as well as for the peace of the 
Church in Virginia, he had scarcely returned to his district be- 
fore he changed his mind and began a course of systematic 
opposition. Whether this desertion of his colleagues and, at 
first, covert war against the very measures he had sustained in 
the council resulted from a conviction of their impropriety or 
of opposition to the council itself, or, which is more probable 
still, from jealousy of Bishop Asbury's growing influence, 
coupled with an inordinate thirst for popularity, must be left 
to the decision of the reader. But certainly his subsequent con- 
duct exhibits him in a very questionable light. If opposed to 
the principle in the organization of the council, he had time 
and opportunities enough to form and express his convictions 
without subjecting himself to the charge of gross inconsis- 
tency. If his objections were founded on the acts of the 
council, he should have opposed them in the session of the 
council, where one dissent would have defeated them. But 
we are constrained to the conclusion that other and less 
worthy motives dictated his factious course. He may not have 
been fully aware of the secret springs of his feelings and actions 
at the beginning of his defection, but charity itself, although it 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 51 

can "cover a multitude of sins," can scarcely be so blind as not 
to perceive that his course is irreconcilable with candor and 
Christian integrity. 

He was an old preacher, of fine talents, and wielded a great 
influence over the younger preachers. He had evidently laid the 
train for the ruin of Bishop Asbury's favorite plan, and the ex- 
plosion began at this Conference. This was, however, but the 
beginning; the end is not yet. 

At the Conference of 1790, Mr. McKendree was appointed 
to Portsmouth Circuit, with Jesse Nicholson for his colleague 
and James 0' Kelly for his elder. His narrative of this year's 
work, of his transfer to Surry Circuit, and of the pleasure and 
spiritual profit he enjoyed have been stated in his letter to 
Bishop Asbury. 

The Diary of Mr. McKendree, which now lies before the 
writer, begins May 7, 1790. 

To those who recollect the manners of Mr. McKendree after 
he became a bishop, it may be surprising to learn that one who 
was usually placid, so philosophically self-possessed and bland, 
whether in the parlor, the pulpit, or in the chair, was remarkable 
for the austerities which he imposed upon himself and the fer- 
vor, almost verging upon excessive enthusiasm, which marked 
his early ministerial history. A few quotations from his Diary 
are given, not certainly to condemn, but to illustrate truthfully 
the depth and earnestness of his piety and zeal: 

"Friday, May 7, 1790. This being fast day, a day I much 
delight in, because it is a day on which Jesus often feeds my 
soul, I rose early, while it was yet dark, and went into the field 
for prayer and meditation; returned to the house and, after 
family prayer, sat down closely to reading, writing, and prayer. 
The day proved very rainy. I have no watch, and having risen 
so early and a few persons having come too soon, we mistook 
the time of day and began the meeting; a precious meeting we 
had indeed." 

This meeting, it seems, was held in a private house, and after 
they had closed the exercises and had waited an hour or two, 
and "just as dinner was set, the people began to come to meet- 
ing." Mortified at his mistake, but not discouraged, he post- 
poned the dinner arrangements and proceeded to hold another 
meeting. This seems to have been the better of the two, for he 
adds: "The great Jehovah poured heaven all over us, until I, as 
well as the rest, was filled, overrun," etc. 

"Saturday, May 8. Deep solemnity and heart agony rested 

52 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

on me. how I pant after more of God! Went to meeting; 
found very few; spoke from, 'O Absalom, my son, my son!' etc. 
Felt like I wanted to send 'rivers of tears' to the ends of the 
earth; returned and went into the preacher's room, and Jesus 
met me. All my sorrow was emptied into his bosom, and I had 
access to a throne of grace." 

Having gone into the woods on that afternoon to read and 
pray in solitude, he says: "My heart burned, but this did not 
suffice. I tried this way and that, until at last I got into an 
agony of prayer. agony! Opain! sweet pain! how the 
flesh dreads agonizing prayer! But I am convinced there is no 
getting nigh or keeping close to God without it." 

"Sunday, May 9. Had a comfortable time in the morning 
and set off with some brethren to love feast at Brother Young's 
meetinghouse; had sweet, refreshing showers by the way; got 
within a few miles and saw such numbers on the way and the 
road so trodden, I felt an awe; and Satan offered me a tempta- 
tion, but I absolutely refused to receive it; turned into the 
woods, and in a beautiful valley fell at Jesus's feet. He opened 
heaven and filled my soul with such victorious joys that the 
fear of men and of devils vanished. As I stepped into the door, 
I felt like God was there. ... At night had prayer meeting, a 
time of the Lord's power, Christians shouting, and my soul de- 
lighted. . . . Went to bed about 11 o'clock. The Lord waked 
me, as usual; regardless of interrupting preachers or people, I 
praised the Lord, and went to bed again." 

This is an allusion to his habit of rising from his bed every 
night for devotion. 

"Monday, May 10. Waked at the break of day; addressed 
the throne of grace; went over a quarter of a mile to a fine 
stream and listened to the murmuring waters and singing birds; 
sent a volley of praise to Jesus, with strong cries for such things 
as I stood in need of. Began searching my heart by the follow- 
ing questions: 

" 1. For what have I left dear parents, family connections, and 
all that is dear to me? Answer. Not for applause or money or 
yet to spread my name or for any sinister view; but (1) for 
peace to my soul; (2) to obey God, without which I cannot keep 
peace; and (3) if by any means I may be helpful to sinners in my 

"2. Why do you exert yourself in reading, praying, and 
meditating so much? Answer. Not to merit heaven or to rec- 
ommend me to God's favor or yet 'to be seen of men'; but to 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 53 

become more and more acquainted with the Word of God and 
the Spirit of God. 

"3. How long do you intend to stand it? Answer. As long 
as I breathe." 

On May 18, Mr. O'Kelly came to his appointment and 
preached for him; and from the following remarks in his Diary 
no doubt Mr. O'Kelly endeavored privately and under the 
guise of confidence to weaken his attachments to Mr. Asbury 
and the government of the Church. He wrote thus: 

"But, poor preachers, when they come together and begin to 
unbosom themselves and look into their distresses, there is 
grief indeed! Such a time of trouble I have not felt. Heavy 
clouds rising; thunder begins to rumble, and lightning flash; 
such gloomy prospects I never saw before," etc. 

What a pity that one so pure and artless should be brought 
under the influence of a jealous, sour, intriguing old preacher! 
Here is more of it: 

"Wednesday, May 19. Brother P'Kelly preached again, 
surely the greatest sermon I ever heard. The dear old man got 
his bitter cup sweetened and his soul inflamed. This evening 
the preachers got together again and the griefs returned again; 
went to bed sorrowful." 

Yes, here is an elder poisoning the minds of the young preach- 
ers against Mr. Asbury and other holy men, assuming ex- 
traordinary piety and love for Methodism, leading these unsus- 
pecting souls to regard Mr. Asbury as despotic and mercenary, 
and plotting the overthrow of the very system for which he had 
lately voted in council. What a presiding elder! A wolf in 
charge of lambs! 

On Thursday, June 10, he took leave of his charge and started . 
for Conference; met with Mr. O'Kelly and continued with him 
to Petersburg. On the way, fell in company with a good many 
of his brethren going to Conference. Of course, Mr. O'Kelly 
could not lose so good an opportunity to carry out his miserable 
designs. Here is the indication of it : 

"Friday, June 11. Brother O'Kelly preached from Romans 
xi. 33. We had great preaching, but not so happy a time as I 
have seen; here met with several other preachers; went on after 
preaching, twelve or fifteen miles to Brother P.'s. Had some 
weighty matters brought before us," etc. 

Who doubts but the "weighty matters brought before" them 
were presented by the elder? that the object was to afflict and 
depreciate Bishop Asbury and the old preachers who agreed 

54 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

with him, by "throwing out of doors" at the ensuing Conference 
the recommendations of "the council"? This is the way the 
elders got the "control of the young preachers." What a lesson 
does the subsequent history of this man teach to ecclesiastical 
demagogues! Let young preachers beware of such men. 

The following extract may be interesting as illustrative of 
early Conference scenes: 

"Monday, June 14, 1790. Got to Petersburg; found Con- 
ference sitting 1 and the young preachers going through their 
examination; and to my comfort heard eighteen or twenty re- 
ceived without a blemish, after standing their time of probation. 
In the evening, Bishop Asbury read his letters from different 
quarters, which gave accounts of the great work of God going 
on. The Lord made it a time of sweetness and power to us in 
general. At the adjourning of the Conference, Mr. Jarratt, an 
Episcopalian preacher, who was with us, went to prayer, and 
a time of shouting we had." 

"Tuesday, Second Day of Conference. We had a precious 
time in the morning. Mr. Jarratt preached at 11 o'clock. After 
preaching, seventeen preachers, being elected, were called and 
presented to the bishop to be ordained deacons. Such a sight 
I never saw before. It was a solemn time indeed and seemed to 
affect the extensive congregation. For my own part, I think I 
was never thus affected before. Felt fresh desires and stronger 
resolutions than ever I experienced before to live to God alto- 
gether. The world this day seemed to be left very far behind, 
and my soul encompassed with light." 

His parchment, signed by Bishop Asbury, dated June 15, 
1790, certifies that he was one of these seventeen; although 
from an excess of modesty he does not say so. "A solemn time, 
indeed!" Doubtless it was peculiarly so to him. It was the 
hour of his public consecration to the ministry and of the ir- 
revocable vow of self-dedication to the "one work" of saving 
souls. The impression of that hour never was erased, that 
solemn vow never violated. Like Wesley, Coke, and Asbury, 
he gave all his time and energies, to his latest hour, to that 
most noble of all works. 

l This Conference was most probably held in a private house, as I learn 
by a letter from the late A. Dibrell, dated Norfolk, Va., January 26, 
1855, that "Bishop McKendree was ordained deacon in the house of Mr. 
Gressett Davis, the house now occupied by his daughter, Mrs. Follett. 
There was at that time no Methodist Church in Petersburg." 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 55 

The Conference over, Mr. McKendree started immediately 
to his new field of labor and reached it in time to fill the first 
appointment, Sunday, June 20. Notwithstanding the length 
of the extracts already given from his Journal, we must give 
one or two more in this connection, as evincing his course dur- 
ing this year. 

"Saturday, June 26. Awoke this morning at my usual time 
and found myself much disordered; thought it was prudent to 
indulge my debilitated body with 'a little more sleep and a 
little more slumber.' But I soon found a fire shut up in my 
bones struggling for vent. I sprang up, fell on my knees, and 
Jesus answered : ' Here am I.' I read five chapters on my knees, 
as usual, with deliberation and in deep meditation, praying for 
every five verses and found heaven all around me. I was made 
so sensible of God's goodness that I sank into nothing before 
him, and every breath and thought seemed to be prayer or 
praise; could scarcely help from bursting into open praise before 
my strange brethren. My heart melted like wax and my soul 
was overwhelmed with gratitude." 

In the evening, after Brother Nicholson had preached for 
him, he says: 

"We went on the seashore. So noble a scene never before 
saluted my eyes! As I approached the foaming, raging sea, I 
observed the waves had their 'bounds/ and their Almighty 
Creator was presented to my mind. I cried out, 'Who would 
refuse to worship such a God as this? ' All earthly objects ap- 
pear small, except such as raise great thoughts about God." 

The incidents noted in his Journal, under date of June 30, 
present a new phase in his character and evince that he pos- 
sessed both physical and moral courage. 

" Wednesday, June 30. Had three hard places to preach at, 
where there are no societies. The second, only last Sabbath . pro- 
duced hundreds of hearers; some drunk, some cursing and swear- 
ing, and others offering the preacher grog; while he was, as he said, 
on his best behavior for fear of a whipping. This set me all on 
fire, felt as though a whipping, for Christ's sake, would be sweet, 
with faithful dealing with such rebels. I went and out they 
came. Nobody said to me: 'Alight,' 'Come in the house,' or 
'Sit down;' it was a private dwelling house. I went right in, 
put down my things, and fixed the table to stand by. I felt a 
fire in my bones and began preaching from Luke xvi. 23: 'And 
in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments.' They seemed to 
hear with great attention. I did not spare them in the least; 

56 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

many deep sighs mixed with tears. A cloud came up and it be- 
gan to thunder fearfully. I claimed the thunder for my God 
and bid defiance to every other power, daring the rebels then 
to say one word. The Lord made it his time to pierce many of 
their hard hearts. I came off clear, road through the rain, re- 
joicing, to Cross Roads, and rested from my labors." 

One or two more extracts from his Journal will suffice for the 

"Monday, July 5. Sprang from bed at the crack of day, 
when all lay sleeping around me. Hurried away with my Bible 
to the open fields overspread with the curtains of heaven and 
prostrated myself before the Deity. Felt less than nothing; 
wrestled in prayer; ran through the fields of meditation; read 
ten chapters on my knees, praying fervently every five verses. 
The Lord bowed the heavens and came down to visit me, 
poured out salvation until my soul was fully delighted," etc. 

"Saturday, July 10. The attributes of the Lord, the provi- 
dence of God, all the holy angels, and the myriad prayers of 
thousands of saints are my friends and on my side. Storms and 
calms, pain and ease, persecution and prosperity, life and 
death you all belong to me through Jesus Christ. Glory, 
hallelujah! Jesus is my beloved. Enough, enough! What can 
daunt my soul when Jesus says, 'Go'? I'll run to and fro at 
his command, in ease or pain, and count the sufferings of this 
life not worth mentioning in comparison of the transcendent 
glories to be revealed." 

And so he did run until he found that glory. 


Extracts from his Diary Preaches two hours Vessels in a gale Feels 
like a wanderer Conversions Preaches in the open air In Ports- 
mouth and Norfolk Bands Very busy Children's class Duty to 
baptized children Self-dedication Emancipation Is changed to an- 
other circuit "Power" Good breeding New circuit His course of 

As the leading object of this biography is to give a full and 
faithful portraiture of this honored and excellent minister of 
God, no apology can be necessary for quoting so frequently 
from his Diary. It would be an unpardonable display of vanity 
if the writer were to substitute his own description of the man 
for the intellectual and moral daguerreotype which his own 
writings furnish us. We quote his Diary again: 

" Thursday, July 15. Feel so little and mean. I go through 
a round of duties, but with so little life, I blush and ask pardon. 
Rode fifteen miles, found a large congregation; preached two 
hours and thought the time short. The word had a sweet effect. 
Went into class meeting; the people pressed upstairs and begged 
to be permitted to come in; had a good time; several joined the 

The next sentence reveals the fact that, even at that time, he 
was subject to a determination of blood to his brain, which, in 
the decline of life, often afflicted him so much as to disqualify 
him for any mental or physical labor: "Was obliged to go to 
bed before the meeting was over; ate no dinner; kept my bed 
until night; was bled, and found some relief." This indisposi- 
tion continued several days, although he, was able to attend his 
appointments and had some refreshing meetings. 

"Monday, July 19. Preached at Annapolis to an attentive 
people. After meeting, took myself to solitude; found much 
sweet communion with the Lord on a river bank; wrestled in 
prayer; reading and meditating, the place became awful. A 
heavy cloud arose very hastily; the waves ran high; vessels hove 
in sight under furled sails; I sat and looked on; never in my life 
did the great Jehovah appear so awfully powerful; my soul 
shuddered. But in the midst, his providential care filled me 
with praise. The rain and clouds soon obscured the view; I 
returned to the house and cast myself at Jesus's feet in prayer. 
During the balance of the day I found continual peace in my 
soul, although I mourn on account of my little progress in the 
divine life and see so few souls getting converted. Lord, revive 

58 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

thy work! 'Turn again our captivity, Lord, and we will 
praise thee!" 

The next quotation indicates a state of feeling in which many 
itinerant preachers can sympathize. He was a wanderer from 
home and loved friends for Christ's sake. Like his great Master 
and prototype, "he had not where to lay his head." The 
morally sublime and benevolent object of his mission was not 
always appreciated by those for whose salvation he labored. 
And even when the melancholy feeling arising from a sense of 
dependence among strangers, which he here expresses, may 
have been groundless as regards the hospitable disposition of 
the people, yet how natural and pardonable the emotion! 

"Tuesday, July 20. Find myself still very poorly and in 
much pain, yet I must go on, for I have no place to rest my 
aching head. Ye sweet birds, sing on; make your nests and 
raise your young in peace; but I am beholden to others for a 
place of shelter and rest. Rejoice, ye foxes; sport, ye active 
lambs, the God of nature smiles upon you." 

But sensible that such a strain of feelings may easily mislead 
him, he checks them by adding: 

"Beware of reasoning with Satan! 

"0 faithless soul to reason thus, 

And murmur without end! 
Did Christ expire upon the cross, 

And is he not your friend? 
Your Saviour is your real friend 

To tell your secrets to; 
On his advice you may depend 

In everything you do. 

Found a large congregation, lifted my heart to Jesus; he an- 
swered. In the beginning it was painful to speak, but I soon got 
well. The power of the Lord came down, the Word was like 
fire among the people; some that never heard a Methodist be- 
fore, as I was informed, sunk to the floor and cried for mercy. 
God bless these yielding sinners! If I go among them, they 
crowd around me to see who can talk to me. Fourteen mourners 
on the floor and two sprung to life! At night the people 
thronged out, and among the rest a bitter enemy of the Method- 
ists. The Lord poured out his Spirit. Just as I began to exhort, 
one was converted and sprung up; a shout bursted in the con- 
gregation, I turned round, and caught the old persecutor in my 
arms. I called upon him to repent, and told him he would be 
damned if he did not." 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 59 

" Wednesday, July 21 . So many people came to meeting; I 
was compelled to take my stand under a tree in the open air. 
About the middle of the sermon one fell to the ground. It was 
a solemn time; joined ten in society. Although no appointment 
had been made for meeting, I was astonished to see a large 
house crowded with people after dark. I risked my health, 
preached, and found the Lord as evidently present as perhaps I 
ever did in my life. The God of Elijah answers by fire! Two 
souls sprung into life, one backslider professed to be reclaimed, 
and others lay almost like dead men. This being a new preach- 
ing place, the people were amazed and gazed as if they saw 

The next three days he spent in Portsmouth and Norfolk, 
attending class meetings and preaching when well enough to do 
so, but still laboring under debility and pain. Mention is made 
of Brother Nicholson in Portsmouth, and Martin in Norfolk, as 
preachers in charge of these places. In the former place he be- 
came acquainted with a Brother George, and "found him and 
his family very kind and pious." 

" Tuesday, July 27, and Wednesday, July 28. A little com- 
forted in meeting, but generally feel much backwardness to my 
duty, which is painful to me, but not half painful enough. 
Lord, increase my faith, inflame my desires; like a mighty 
magnet draw my whole nature toward thee, that I may run 
after thee in full stretch, with an earnest and expanded heart 
and take the kingdom of heaven by humble violence! Amen, 

"Thursday, July 29. 0, this leanness! and the worst of all 
is, I am too contented in it and too much at ease. Lord, pour 
fire into my soul and heart and bones! Shut it up there until 
every power is inflamed! Let me wrestle and fight and die 
rather than sink into a formal spirit of religion!" 

The next quotation is a characteristic one: 

"Monday, August 2. Rest day; arose early; applied myself 
closely to study. There are several persons present with whom 
I have been in company for several days and have endeavored 
to provoke them to good works; I hope I have succeeded. Last 
evening I formed five bands, one of which wept over their lean- 
ness and started with renewed zeal. This morning, at breakfast, 
they told me they rose at midnight, walked a mile, and held a 
band meeting while I lay asleep. I stood confounded and 

60 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

The following extract from his Diary, dated Thursday, Au- 
gust 5, 1790, illustrates the character of our fathers in the itiner- 
ancy, and the secret of their success: 

"Rose early; poured out my soul in prayer and praise; rode 
to Portsmouth; met the other preacher and at twelve o'clock 
met class; had a comfortable time. Rode into the country and 
preached at 4 P.M. The power of the Lord was amongst the 
people; deep solemnity rested on the whole congregation; 
about twelve or fifteen down crying for mercy. One was con- 
verted and appeared to be as happy as a creature can be. Re- 
turned to town, preached at eight o'clock, and went to rest at 
half-past ten o'clock, much fatigued in body but with perfect 
calmness of soul." 

Again he writes: 

"Friday, August 6. Set out soon; rode t\venty-five miles; 
preached, met class, and classed seventeen children." 

How suggestive is the closing remark! And may not the 
inquiry be both pertinent and important just here, whether, as 
Methodists, and especially as Methodist preachers, we are 
doing our whole duty to our children? Sunday schools have 
done much for them; but ought not the children of our people 
to be placed more fully under the pastoral oversight of our 
preachers in charge? Should they not form children's classes, 
meet them regularly, instruct, exhort, and pray with and for 
them? So did young McKendree. Is it not time we were all 
awake to the importance of this work? Christ loves "the little 
children," is angry at those who forbid their coming to him, 
says he is their King, and his kingdom is composed of, or be- 
longs to, such, for "of such is the kingdom of heaven," presents 
them as models to which adults must be assimilated, that they 
may enter the kingdom, thus recognizing their right to the 
privileges of citizenship in his kingdom and of their eternal 
salvation except upon a forfeiture of these blessings. Thus we 
understand the great Master; so the great body of the Christian 
Church understood him down to the Reformation. Hence the 
undisputed recognition of their right to baptism by the early 

And now we baptize them and have done with them! Surely 
a good shepherd will take care of the lambs of his flock. Christ's 
lambs'should have our care. 

On Saturday, August 28, after preaching and attending the 
burial of a friend, he received a packet of letters, and among 
them was one from "a friend," which seems to have excited him 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 61 

greatly. Whatever may have been the design of this communi- 
cation, it became a spur to his devotional feelings and called 
forth the following strong expressions of renewed dedication of 
himself to the service of God : 

"I feel fresh courage; the 'spur' provokes i. e., excites me, 
heaven allures me, the Father draws, and Jesus bids me come. 
And what shall prevent? Shall tribulation, affliction, or per- 
secution? No. Is anything too much to give up or too dear 
to part from? Shall chief friends or near connections stay me? 
No. Shall honor or pleasure? I spurn them. Shall the riches of 
Peru or the gold of Ophir be thought equal to thine eternal 
love, Lord? And, with all the rest, I cheerfully make the 
surrender of soul, flesh, and blood, and, at thy command, father 
and mother, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, and the yoke 
broke and the oppressed go free. And my life, adorable Jesus, 
is at thy disposal! All these do I view as valueless when they 
rise between thee and me. And now, Lord God Almighty, 
grant me one request, for Christ's sake; give me grace; give 
me power cheerfully to leave them all at thy command." 

Two remarks suggested by the above quotation may not be 
considered inappropriate: 

1. Without a frequent and solemn reconsecration of himself 
and of all he has to the service of God, no preacher is fitted for 
his holy work. 

2. There is doubtless, an inkling of his feelings on the subject 
of emancipation in the above phrase: "The yoke broke, the 
oppressed go free." 

Mr. McKendree, in common with the whole body of his 
colleagues in the Methodist ministry, and perhaps in the mem- 
bership, was doubtless sternly opposed to the African slave 
trade, then carried on extensively. The feelings of Mr. Wesley 
and of Dr. Coke were well understood upon this subject. Hu- 
manity shuddered at the injustice and cruelty connected with 
it. South Carolina, while a British province, passed an act 
prohibiting the further importation of slaves, but Great Britian 
rejected it. The province of Virginia repeatedly remonstrated 
with the crown of England against it and begged its discontin- 
uance, but British selfishness protected the traffic and, assisted 
by New England, carried it on until the South was filled with 
captured Africans. 1 

J The colony of Virginia, beginning as far back as 1699, passed twenty- 
three acts to repress the slave trade. 

62 Life and Timss of Bishop McKendree 

In her petition to the British throne in 1772, the following 
language is used : 

We are encouraged to look up to the throne and implore Your Majesty's 
paternal assistance in averting a calamity of the most alarming nature. 
The importation of slaves into the colonies from the coast of Africa hath 
long been considered a trade of inhumanity; and under its present en- 
couragement, we have too much reason to fear, will endanger the very 
existence of Your Majesty's American dominions. 

Deeply impressed with these sentiments, we most humbly beseech 
our Majesty to remove all those restraints on our Majesty's governors 
of this colony which inhibit their assenting to such laws which might 
check so very pernicious a commerce. 

These petitions availed nothing. The reply which had been 
made to South Carolina, that the slave trade was beneficial and 
necessary to the mother country, and which was given to the 
attempts to abolish the trade in Jamaica in 1765, and repeated 
in 1774 that "we cannot allow the colonies to check or discour- 
age a traffic so beneficial to the nation," seems to have been the 
settled policy of England up to the period of our Revolution. 
Indeed, "the inhuman use of the royal negative" against the 
action of the colonies upon this subject is specified in the very 
first clause of the original Virginia Constitution as a reason of 
her separation from the mother country; and the first Assembly 
after the adoption of the Constitution prohibited the traffic. 

Nor let it be forgotten that the United States government 
interdicted the trade from her ports thirteen years before Great 
Britain did ; that she made it punishable as a crime seven years 
before, and that she fixed the period of nonimportation while 
Britain was still allowing and encouraging it in her colonies; and 
that Northern ships and capital were deeply interested in the 
trade. Thus to old England and New England the South al- 
most wholly owed her slaves, and but for Southern opposition 
to their "capture" and the horrors of "the middle passage," the 
African slave trade would not have been so soon abolished. 

Sympathizing with the prevailing feeling upon this subject, 
Mr. McKendree was decidedly opposed to the slave trade. 
Humanity and religion branded it as cruel and odious. Mr. 
Wesley and all the early preachers whom he sent to America 
were conscientiously and openly in opposition both to the 
" trade " and the relation of slavery. The number of slaves then 
in the colonies was comparatively small, and it was thought 
their emancipation was practicable; hence, under those influ- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 63 

ences, many Methodists in the slave regions felt constrained to 
evince their sense of the injustice of capturing and enslaving the 
unfortunate Africans by emancipating all they owned. In 
this way thousands were restored to nominal freedom. As the 
number of slaves increased and the difficulties of the effort be- 
came more and more evident, this first strong emotion was, in 
a degree, repressed by reflecting upon the impossibility of re- 
storing them to their native home in Africa, the miseries which 
such a restoration would involve, their incapacity for the enjoy- 
ment of the rights of freemen here, and the degradation and 
wretchedness of those upon whom the experiment had been 
tried. Public sentiment thus gradually settled down in the un- 
welcome conviction that the relation was inevitable, and thus 
thousands who viewed the acts of their capture and deportation 
with horror, and who would have done anything practicable to 
prevent their introduction into America, finding the question 
of their emancipation a problem for which no feasible solution 
had been presented by statesmen and philanthropists, came to 
the conclusion that to those necessarily involved in the relation 
of masters, the wiser and better plan was to treat them with 
humanity, give them the advantages of the gospel, and await 
the developments of Providence. 

Many, however, not so familiar with the difficulties which 
environ the subject and impelled by their sympathies, continued 
to advocate emancipation at whatever risks to society and to 
the slaves themselves. Their consciences were implicated, and 
they felt they must bear their testimony against "the evils of 
slavery," forgetting that to modify and control an evil and to 
make it conduce to good is in some cases the best and only safe 
remedy for it. 

We have no wish to conceal the fact that Mr. McKendree, 
at this period of his life and for many years afterwards, was 
opposed both to slavery and the slave trade. Nor do we pretend 
that he was ever the advocate of the one or the other. He was 
too intimately acquainted with the delicate and dangerous na- 
ture of the subject, too wise and prudent, and, withal, loved 
both his country and the whole Church too much to become at 
any period of his life a public and violent agitator of this ques- 
tion. He was opposed to becoming the owner of slaves, and no 
doubt would have set them free if his father had given him any. 
When he wrote the words quoted above, doubtless he was at 
heart an emancipationist, as were most of his colleagues and 
friends. Jfe \ftas such uppn principle; and if maturer years, 

64 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

more extended observation, and a riper judgment affected any 
change in his views and feelings upon the subject, which is said 
and believed to have been the case, such a change implied 
nothing inconsistent with the purest and most disinterested 
emotions of Christian philanthropy. It was not that he loved 
the slave less, or less detested the slave trade, or that he was 
more a friend of slavery, but that he became more sensible of the 
fact that the highest interests of all concerned made it his duty 
to refrain from the agitation of the question. Nothing is more 
evident than that in his later years the agitation of this sub- 
ject in the Church deeply disquieted and distressed his heart. 
Slavery he regarded, as it existed in the South, an infinitely less 
evil than civil war and ecclesiastical strife. He was born and 
brought up amidst slaves; his parents and all his nearest kindred 
were owners of them. He had witnessed the growth of the slave 
population, had seen the effects of slavery, and of emancipation, 
both in the free and the slave States; every plan which human 
ingenuity had devised for "the extirpation of the great evil of 
slavery," he had duly considered; and with his ample sources of 
information he came to the conclusion that under his surround- 
ings it was best for him, in view of all the difficulties and dangers 
involved, to let the subject alone, except in so far as he was 
bound by the Word of God to insist upon the duties pertaining 
to the relation of both the master and the slave. As an evidence 
of the modification of his sentiments on this question, by more 
extended observation, when his growing infirmities rendered it 
necessary that he should have a servant to attend upon him, he 
consulted with his friends, the Rev. Dr. A. L. P. Green and Mr. 
Elijah Boddie, about the propriety of purchasing a servant for 
this purpose; but they dissuaded him from it, and he dropped 
the subject. 

Justice to him demands that we add that since our acquaint- 
ance with him began until his death, he was the fast friend of 
colonization, not with the expectation that by this means they 
would all be speedily transferred to Africa, but that the free 
colored people might find a congenial home and become instru- 
mental in evangelizing their fatherland. 

Such was the consistent course of the man whose early Diary 
we are tracing, and which closes his account of himself, August 
28, 1790, with these characteristic remarks: 

"I enjoy the testimony of an inoffensive conscience; and this 
is my continual rejoicing, 'that in simplicity and godly sincerity 
I have had my conversation in the world." 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 65 

Having been directed by his presiding elder to exchange work 
with another preacher, he notices the fact in his Diary, and con- 
fesses his reluctance to do so because of the strong mutual 
attachment which knit him and his charge together. To one 
so constitutionally modest and retiring as he was known to be, 
and as he was to a peculiar degree in his early ministry, it must 
ever have been an affliction to leave a devoted circle of friends 
and brethren and go amidst strangers. Yet he hesitated not, 
it was the custom of the times, and he was not a man likely 
to innovate the rules he had promised to keep or to claim a 
personal exemption from a common duty. 

"Sunday, August 29, 1790. With a heaven of peace in my 
soul, I preached at B. meetinghouse, from Proverbs i. 12-26. 
The power of the Lord came upon me, and his word was like fire 
shut up in my bones. Some hard hearts trembled, others ran 
from the power. This is the way the devil keeps possession of 
the people here, as soon as the power is displayed, he leads the 
sinners off. I went after them, but they bristled up in a bunch 
and opposed and condemned the work. I reasoned with them 
until they were softened and begged them, if they condemned 
me, at any rate to spare the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus 
Christ. I then drew vouchers from the Scriptures, which made 
them look about. I further said: 'You think I am wrong, and 
I think you are not right; but God knows who is right, and he 
will presently judge us all, and I know Jesus is in my soul.' I 
then began to shout, and they turned pale, kindly shook my 
hand, and bade me godspeed." 

God forbid that the time shall ever occur in the history of 
Methodism when the preachers shall cease to feel the holy fire 
which glowed in the heart of young McKendree or become 
ashamed to defend the work of the Holy Spirit! Should such, 
unfortunately, ever take place, then, however learned and 
eloquent they may be, however numerous, rich, and respectable 
our membership may become, the "power" will depart from us, 
revivals cease, and the divine Shekinah will no longer gleam 
upon our altar. God of our fathers, give us poverty, reproach, 
and persecution rather than this! Take not from us an earnest, 
spiritual, and faithful ministry, with those demonstrations of 
our divine calling which our fathers enjoyed in the conversion 
of sinners and the sanctification of believers ! Let thy " power " 
abide with us to the end of time! 

Omitting to notice the details of the succeeding week, as given 
in his Diary, evincing constant toil and much holy joy, we 

66 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

anxiously follow him to his new field of labor. Here is his ac- 
count of his introduction to his new charge: 

''Sunday, September 5, 1790. Took my new circuit, at N. 
Tavern, preached to a pretty serious and attentive people, but 
strangers to me. After meeting I felt, for a little while, like I 
must make application for some place to lay my head; but be- 
fore I did so, a very genteel person stepped forward and gave me 
an invitation. I thankfully accepted the offer and soon found it 
was to a lawyer's, one of the first families. The sweetness of 
this people's spirit has entirely won me. I am more than ever 
convinced that good breeding is an accomplishment next to 
grace. Instead of leaving the room to avoid the presence of the 
preacher, they give me their company when I can spare time 
from retirement and introduce subjects for conversation which 
interest and instruct. Indeed, they so won my affection that 
when I took my evening walk, I felt deeply engaged for them, 
and cried out: '0 Lord, give me this people!' that I may 
meet every member of this precious family in the kingdom of 
glory! Amen." 

This was a very good beginning, and the new circuit seems 
to have been one. of more refinement and intelligence than the 
old one. Will our youthful soldier find himself relaxing in 
self-denial, simplicity, and zeal now that he is mingling with the 
more polished and wealthy portion of society? What happened 
to the victorious followers of Hannibal after the battle of Can- 
nae has often since occurred to the young soldier of the cross, 
and hundreds of preachers who had won favor by their zeal, 
simplicity, and devotion to their Master have been ruined by 
prosperity, smiles, and flattery. Not such, however, was his 
fate; the secret of his strength in resisting these influences will 
be found in the divine grace, which he sought with great hu- 
mility and constant self-denial and in his unceasing labors in the 

The succeeding week he seems to have suffered a good deal 
from an attack of fever and ague; but on Monday, September 
13, he resumes his Diary: 

"Remained poorly, but traveled and strove to preach; have 
had lovely meetings, Christians in a flame. My exercises have 
been various. I want to serve God with all my soul and dedi- 
cate all my gifts and substance to the Lord. But O, I do often 
see and feel my failures and set out afresh to amend, yet have 
to mourn that I am not what I ought to be! My example is not 
so reserved and holy as it ought to be! How unbecoming for a 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 67 

Christian, especially a Christian minister, to laugh! Lord, 
thou that seest me now while writing and knowest how I want 
to love thee with all my heart and serve thee with all my 
strength, pardon my misgivings, pity my weaknesses, and 
graciously restore me to the strength of 'a perfect man in Christ 
Jesus' ! Endear thyself to me, Lord, until I shall be inflamed 
with love and be ready to lay down my life for thee at any 
time! Lord grant it! Amen." 

Let his sons in the gospel read and consider the following 
language in his Diary, dated Thursday, September 16, 1790: 

"Preached, much life and activity in religion, and pressed 
the subject of holiness with much diligence. Some proclaimed 
their fresh resolutions to go forward and acknowledged former 
backslidings. I felt the weight of St. Paul's language, lest after 
' I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway/ 
what dangers I see in a preacher's resting in merely talking 
about and pressing it upon others and yet for want of spiritual 
exertions and repeated fastings, he may be losing the power of 
religion in his own soul ! Lord, while I minister to others, I 
pray thee give me to eat and live of 'the things of the altar/ 
lest I die! 1 Corinthians ix. 13." 

Daily self-denail, frequent, fervent, and protracted prayer, 
"in fastings often," "preaching the word in season and out of 
season," reproving, rebuking, exhorting, as "need required and 
occasion was given," combined with a constant study of the 
Bible and devout meditation were the means by which our 
fathers in the ministry "wrought wonders." Their preaching 
was plain and in faith, they felt the force of the momentous 
truths which they uttered. They realized the presence of God, 
and expected the aid of the Holy Spirit to attend the divinely 
appointed means. They looked for present effects, and they 
were not disappointed. Sinners were convicted and converted 
under the Word, and the lukewarm and self-satisfied were 
stimulated to seek for holiness. God honored the men by giving 
them the signs and seal of his favor who honored him by their 
confidence in his truth and power. So it has ever been, and so 
it will be to the end of time. 

We give the following quotation as another instance of the 
course he pursued: 

"Saturday, September 18. Rose early. After morning devo- 
tion and family prayer, I returned to my room and read five 
chapters in Deuteronomy on my knees, praying fervently 
every five verses for the Spirit and life of the Word. Precious 

68 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

and awful meditations rolled through my mind. I turned my 
eyes, and behold, all under the sun is 'vanity'; hence the con- 
clusion that true religion and good health are the greatest 
blessings on earth." 

He adds, at the close of the day: "This being watch night, 
and having to watch alone, I went to my room. After prayers 
for the band connection, fell to reading the 'Saints' Rest'; and 
really, before I got through the account of ' the hinderances to 
heavenly mindedness,' my heart ached. I wrestled and begged 
the Lord for power over my last enemy. I mourned my time 
out and went to bed pained and distressed for more of God." 

The reader doubtless understands here the allusions to the 
band society and the custom of its members to pray for each 
other at stated times, and also to the watch night usage, which 
required its members to devote the night, at least until after 
twelve o'clock, to devotion. 


McKendree's Diary Fasting Reproof Mr. O'Kelly attacks the Coun- 
cil His course Itinerancy Tobacco Preparation for preaching 
Selecting and changing texts Different kinds of style The kind for 
the pulpit O'Kelly's Convention The regular Council Mr. Asbury 
gives it up McKendree visits his father Meets Bishop Asbury Is de- 
lighted Mr. Wesley's death Dr. Coke goes to England McKendree 
ordained elder, December 25, 1791. 

As the Diary of Mr. McKendree embraces but a short period 
of his useful life and may be interesting and edifying to many 
or our readers, we subjoin further extracts: 

" Wednesday, September 22, 1790. Early in the morning 
spent an hour on my knees in fervent prayer, reading God's 
Word, and praising my adorable Saviour. It was a time of 
heavenly joys to my soul. From 10 A.M. to half past one 
o'clock, I spent in a lonely, awful swamp in wrestling, agonizing 
prayer. But surely God and his holy ones were all around me, 
heaven burst into my bosom, and glory filled my soul." 

Again: "O how sweet is Christian fellowship below! Blessed 
be God for the uniting spirit of love I feel to Jesus and his 
people! blessed be God that ever he formed a militant 
Church ! Glory to his name that he ever received such a poor 
unworthy worm as I into his Church privileges! How I am 
blessed! 'I had rather be a door keeper in the house of my 
God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness;' that I would." 

The practice of fasting at regular periods, it is feared, is, like 
some other very excellent usages among the old Methodists, 
becoming less strictly observed of late than formerly. Then 
the habit, among the preachers especially, was to fast every 
Friday some added Tuesday and those who were too feeble 
to fast throughout the entire day abstained until evening. The 
quarterly fasts were kept by all the members. Mr. McKendree 
was punctual and rigid in all these observances. Hence he says: 

"Friday, September 24. Having to ride fifteen miles and 
preach, I had some temptations to breakfast, but resisted them; 
and though I suffered on account of abstinence, yet the cross 
vanished, and I suffered less than usual on my fast days. Praise 
and power, honor and glory to God ! He has not forgotten to be 
gracious, but made one in our midst. The meeting lasted four 

70 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

hours, when one of the mourners sprang up, praising God for 
snatching him as 'a brand from the burning.' how like 
heaven is the place where God revives his work!" 

Sunday, September 26, seems to have been to him a day of 
some labor and trial. He preached to a "number of professors " 
of religion, "pressing the subject of holiness" upon them; but 
it was found impossible to engage their attention, and he inti- 
mates that the indifference was owing to an increasing spirit of 
formality. Indeed, so dissatisfied was he with the result of his 
efforts and with the subsequent idle and worldly conversation 
of the members, that he could not eat his dinner, but proceeded 
to Brother Berryman's, a distance of twenty miles, expecting 
to meet his presiding elder, J. O'Kelly. In this hope, however, 
he was disappointed, although he found Brother William Spen- 
cer there, with whom he enjoyed sweet Christian communion. 
During the whole of this Sabbath afternoon ride he was harassed 
by temptations, nor found relief until shortly before he reached 
his destination. He had preached and held class meeting in the 
forenoon, and left the house of his friend, who had invited him- 
to dinner, not only without eating, but sorely vexed. His ride 
was fatiguing. He found Brother Spencer "shut up in a little 
room and very sick," and the brethren already collected there 
for meeting. To add to his excitement against worldly minded- 
ness in the Church, poor Spencer complained bitterly against 
the trifling conversation of those who had assembled. Hence 
Mr. McKendree, having "to hold meeting," took occasion to 
lecture pointedly upon Sabbath breaking and levity of deport- 
ment." The offenders hung down their heads; some were very 
penitent, while Brother Spencer and himself "were refreshed 
and comforted." To reprove sin is sometimes as much a duty as 
to proclaim glad tidings and not unfrequently requires far more 
moral courage, for while no one ever so delighted to comfort and 
bless men as did ouf divine Master, yet even he occasionally 
dealt in anathemas, until a stranger might have supposed that 
he never used any other trumpet than that of "cursing." But 
alas for frail humanity ! How slight an incident may give a tinge 
to our emotions, and how often do we mistake the suggestions 
of our own morbid sensibilities for the impulses of duty! "Ye 
know not what manner of spirit ye are of" was the Saviour's 
reply to the prayer for fire to consume a village which had re- 
fused to receive him. He turned and rebuked his disciples and 
quietly went to another village. How perfect the portraiture 
of heavenly excellence is Christ's character as exhibited in the 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 71 

Bible! He was more afflicted by the wrong temper of his dis- 
ciples than by the disrespect shown himself, and felt that it was 
more important they should be right than that he should be 
popular. Wrong actions in others do not justify wrong tempers 
in us; for if Christ's ministers continue right, the errors of the 
world may at last be corrected; but if they go astray, the re- 
covery of the world is hopeless. Doubtless Mr. McKendree 
but discharged a pastoral duty in the rebuke he administered 
in this case, and it is to be hoped that while he performed a 
painful duty, the manner in which it was done was also right. 
On the next day i. e., Monday, September 27 Mr. 0' Kel- 
ly, the presiding elder, came, and preached on John xvii. 7: 
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." "He 
opened the doctrine of sanctification to my great satisfaction. 
In his first head of doctrine, which was to show for whom 
Christ prayed, the people seemed sweetly happy; but in the 
second, which was to show why his prayer is not answered and 
what sanctification is, the congregation became unfeeling. We 
had a melting time at sacrament, and then the poor miserable 
council took up all our time until ten o'clock at night." Alas 
for Mr. 0' Kelly! Again at the miserable work of prejudicing 
the young preachers placed under his charge against the very 
measure for which he had voted in General Conference; and 
doubtless inveighing against the motives and administration of 
the honest, laborious, and unselfish Asbury; drilling his inex- 
perienced and unsuspecting "young men to throw the whole 
affair out" at the approaching Conference, and thus covertly 
laying the train whose explosion was to rend the Conference 
and the Church! Yet even this unsuspecting young preacher, 
who had been introduced into Conference by him, out of whose 
district he had never traveled, and to whom he looked up as to 
a model minister and Christian gentleman, even he is disgusted 
and worried with the oft-repeated introduction of the subject. 
What a poor return does Mr. 0' Kelly make to Bishop Asbury 
and the Church for the confidence and respect they evince in 
giving him a position which he employs to their injury! Unac- 
quainted with the bishop, inexperienced in the wiles of ambition 
or the feelings of jealousy, and comparatively ignorant of the 
government of the Church, our young preacher's guileless heart 
and earnest piety are not proof against such influences. In- 
deed, his very love of the Church stimulates to a more intense 
dislike of the man he is taught to regard as a tyrant. Mr. 
O'Kelly was a hot emancipationist. Sanctification was his 

72 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

theme in the pulpit and detraction of Mr. Asbury his employ- 
ment out of it. Like most ambitious and disappointed men, he 
had a high appreciation of his own importance, and fault- 
finding and defamation seem to have been henceforth his 
daily work until he seceded. The wonder is that he did not ruin 
more of the young preachers than he did; perhaps their very 
ingenuousness and honesty of heart, which he abused to preju- 
dice them against Bishop Asbury, were the means of their being 
disabused when they came to know him better. Surely, what- 
ever diversities of opinion may exist upon other topics between 
the different organizations of the great Methodist family in 
America, they must ever agree and attest that Francis Asbury 
was, under God, an apostle of Jesus Christ to them all. 

In a few days, however, Mr. O'Kelly left the circuit, and Mr. 
McKendree resumed his labors. He confesses that he felt less 
inclination for his duties, "and very much concerned about the 
present aspect of our Church government." Left to himself 
and continuing his course of study and labor, his sky soon be- 
came bright again; for shortly afterwards we find him saying 
of an appointment which he reached with great difficulty: 
" In the first prayer my soul caught fire; felt light, life, and power 
in preaching; the place fairly trembled with the engagedness of 
the people; Christians shouted and sinners wept." Of course 
he held a class meeting. 

"The people went out for class meeting, but before the door 
was shut, some came back into the house. I talked with them, 
and they resolved to seek the Lord. We had a sweet meeting, 
blessed be God ! I hope the labor of this day is not in vain. I 
feel complete victory in my own soul, thanks be to the Lord ! " 

The itinerant system of preaching is of divine appointment, 
and unquestionably John Wesley and his sons in the gospel 
may justly claim in this respect to be in the "apostolic succes- 
sion." The great Master traveled and preached. His last com- 
mand was, "Go;" and "as ye go, preach." "And they went 
forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them." 
Christ had promised to "be with them unto the end of the 
world." He was with them, and has ever been with their 
faithful successors in doctrine, experience, and labors. This 
system is not only necessary as a means of diffusing the 
Word of life among all the scattered population of the globe, 
but it is the great school for training and perpetuating an 
efficient and holy ministry. Without it, the world would be 
much poorer and the Church would suffer an irreparable loss. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 73 

True, it is a system often involving exile from "father and moth- 
er, brother and sister, houses and lands, wife and children;" it 
devolves labor, care, and, not unfrequently, affliction and pov- 
erty upon those who engage in it, and sometimes even the loss 
of life itself; but it must never be abandoned. No cost is too 
great which is necessary to spread "the glorious gospel of the 
blessed God," and "save the souls for whom Christ died." The 
richest gems, the brightest intellects, the most precious lives, the 
hardest labors, and greatest sacrifices find their safest and best 
investment in this godlike work. If archangels were permitted 
to assume our form for a season and select their vocations, they 
would become traveling ministers. They would leave to others 
to be kings, statesmen, generals, philosophers, and jurists, and, 
like their and our great Lord, throw all their time and energies 
into the harvest field, where souls are reaped for the heavenly 
garner. Nor would they care much whether their fields of op- 
eration might be rich or poor, refined or rustic; if they might 
have any preference, it would be for the places where their 
labor might be most needed and most effective. 

The emotions of the "good and faithful" itinerant preacher 
are various and peculiar. Impelled by a conviction of duty 
which will not allow of indolence or silence, trembling under a 
sense of the delicacy and responsibility of the ministerial office, 
deeply and even painfully sensible of his want of qualification 
for the proper discharge of its various duties, and, sometimes, 
almost overwhelmed with the discouragements and trials pe- 
culiar to the itinerant pastor's work, he needs and must have a 
frequent baptism of the Holy Ghost to sustain him. And while 
a consciousness of his personal acceptance with God and a con- 
viction that the path in which he is treading, although often 
rugged and thorny, is nevertheless the way of duty may enable 
him to bear "the burden of the Lord" bravely and cheerfully; 
yet when he sees no fruit of all his toils and cares, but meets 
with indifference among the unconverted and neglect on the 
part of his members, ah, then he must have a firm faith in the 
truth of God's promises, or he will falter in his course. But, 
on the other hand, when a soothing manifestation of the Holy 
Spirit is given him and the seal of divine approval attests his 
call to the ministry in the conversion and sanctification of souls, 
who so happy as he? Then he feels that the longest life is too 
short and his utmost energies too small a contribution to so great 
and glorious a work. Such were the struggles and such the 
triumphs of young McKendree, and such has been the history 

74 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of many a humble, laborious traveling preacher, who, like 
him, lived to work for God and souls until he died to rest forever. 

The next quotation illustrates his zeal and evinces his opposi- 
tion to the "needless self-indulgence" of the use of tobacco, an 
opposition which he maintained through life. 

" Thursday, September SO, 1 790. Rode to Brother Andrews's 
and met a few people. The Christians were not engaged, and 
the sinners looked impudently wicked. I strove to be faithful 
and was plain in class meeting. Some seemed a little moved, 
but so soon as meeting was over and they were out of class, one 
had a pipe, another was after a chew of tobacco, and the women 
with their snuffboxes until my soul was grieved." 

"Preparation for the pulpit" is frequently talked about, 
both among preachers and others; and assuredly every preacher 
should "study to show himself approved unto God, a workman 
that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of 
truth." For this purpose he should read and inwardly digest 
such books as may conduce to this end, and by no means be 
guilty of the presumption of supposing that the Spirit of God 
will as readily give his sanction to an undigested ebullition of 
fancy and rant as to those sermons which are the result of pro- 
found and pious study. But there is one kind of preparation 
for which our early preachers were remarkable, and to which, 
under God, they were to a great degree indebted for their 
wonderful success in winning souls; a preparation for which 
neither learning nor eloquence nay, nor every possible literary 
and mental accomplishment affords a substitute. Of course 
it is the preparation of the heart and soul. The following quo- 
tation from his Diary shows how the subject of this biography 
sought this qualification: 

"October 2. Being already at my preaching place since eight 
o'clock, I have been with Jesus in his beautiful forest in deep 
exercise. My book is sweeter than common. what spirit I 
find in the Word of the Lord! I read it much and with great 
delight, often on my knees. I take my flight on wings of faith 
and love still mounting higher to the celestial world. One-half 
hour humbly prostrate on my face to converse with eternity! 
And such deep views and bright conceptions of eternal things 
I never had before in all my life. But I must go; the congrega- 
tion is assembled, and my watch says eight minutes to twelve 
o'clock. Farewell, sweet and solemn place! Lord Jesus, go 
with me! Amen. Amen." 

And is it surprising that He who promised, "Lo, I am with 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 75 

you," should verify his promise to such a minister? The Lord 
Jesus was with him blessed his labors, honored him with a long 
and useful life, and, after enabling him to exhibit a consistent 
example and adorn various offices in the ministry, dismissed him 
from earth and received him to himself. Should the example 
of this holy man be the means of perpetuating his spiritual, 
self-denying, and laborious course among his sons in the gospel, 
the writer's highest desire will have been attained in preparing 
this work for the press. May they at least ever remember that 
nothing can supersede the necessity of preparing their hearts 
and souls for the pulpit by devout reading and study of the 
Bible, fervent and frequent prayer, self-examination, and holy 
meditation! We do not depreciate the highest mental training, 
the higher the better; but without this spiritual preparation the 
highest is far too low for that service in which "we are workers 
together with God." 

The following week was devoted to preaching, visiting the 
sick, and his usual routine of religious exercises. Twice during 
the time he preached to congregations of colored people and was 
much gratified both by the opportunity and the effect. He ex- 
presses surprise and gratitude for the cordial hospitality he 
received, and particularly for the solicitude evinced by the 
wealthy and intelligent but unconverted for his company; 
thinks it an omen for good, and resolves to use it for their 
spiritual welfare. "Visited Mr. Hardy, who was very ill, 'of 
a long hard fever,' and being invited to preach to those who 
waited on the sick, gladly embraced the opportunity and ad- 
dressed them from 'Ye must be born again.'" 

He notices the following incident as occurring this week. It 
seems that Robert Green, preacher on Calvert Circuit, had 
visited Mr. McKendree's circuit and preached at one of his 
meetinghouses the day before. "I had fixed my mind upon a 
text in the morning, but while going into the house my mind be- 
gan to float. During singing, my subject became entirely 
foreign to my feelings, and another presented itself to my mind. 
I took it and, blessed be the Lord, I felt a tolerable degree of 
liberty, and my own soul was comforted. After meeting was 
over, I told Brother Green my exercises concerning the text, 
when he replied: 'The text you lost I preached from here yester- 

The plan of selecting a text as soon as possible, and always 
after prayer and proper reflection upon the character and con- 
dition of the audience, is certainly judicious; nor should it be 

76 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

changed, after it has been maturely considered, for a mere 
whim; yet every preacher, except perhaps those who read their 
sermons or deliver them from memory (and it is to be hoped 
their number among us is small) will occasionally find himself 
afloat (boatman's phrase) and have to fasten to another text. 
Sometimes the subject is found inappropriate to the audience, 
but more frequently, as in the case of Mr. McKendree, it be- 
comes tame to the feelings, or partially beclouded. Then 
another theme presents itself with more vividness to the mind, 
and the change is effected. But let the young preacher beware 
lest he fall into Charybdis in avoiding Scylla; for it does not 
follow because one thought associated with the new text may 
strike his fancy or because it may seem to be a more impressive 
theme that he will be more likely to discuss it profitably. Too 
many choose their texts as silly men do their wives, for subjects 
have their drapery as well as persons. The first business of the 
preacher is to give the meaning of God's Word. He should 
therefore seek to find out the import of his text, and then deter- 
mine whether the lessons he can fairly deduce from it are likely 
to be appropriate and useful to his audience. In most cases the 
extemporaneous preacher who has studied and matured his 
subject without having memorized it has a decided advantage. 
Let us not, however, be misunderstood on this subject. We 
hold that every preacher should cultivate his memory and 
chasten his style, and as nothing contributes to the latter more 
than the use of the pen, of course he should write sermons. 
Neither would we object to his memorizing one of his own com- 
posing occasionally, or to his reading it on an extraordinary 
occasion. But such cases should be exceptions, the general rule 
being "to study the subject thoroughly and then depend upon 
his resources for language to express his ideas." In this way he 
will form the habit of thinldng while extemporizing, and at the 
same time all the mental faculties which oratory requires, 
having been cultivated by previous study, will be improved and 
adapted to the occasion. The pompous, the elaborate, and the 
rustic styles of speaking are unfit for the pulpit. The first aims 
to be impressive, avoids short words as a prudent man does 
contagion, affects the sublime, but is simply ridiculous and 
seeks to carry the citadel by high-sounding nonsense. He at- 
tempts to do a large business on a small capital. Words, gestures, 
and voice are his merchandise, while his stock of ideas is very 
deficient; or if perchance he should be heard to utter some scraps 
of blank verse, a stanza of sonorous rhyme, or a sentence or two 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 77 

a little less magniloquent than his usual inflated style, it may be 
taken for granted that he is disingenuously appropriating the 
product of another's mind to his own benefit, a species of petit 
larceny not unfrequent with such speakers and for which they 
deserve to be impaled by public contempt. The second is too 
learned and philosophic, too stiff and artistic. This is our 
amateur preacher. His terms are refined and unusual. He em- 
ploys, like some young doctors, scientific and technical words 
which common people do not understand. He copies Plato and 
Epictetus, not St. Paul or St. Paul's great Master. Such a 
preacher may be styled a "beautiful speaker," "learned," 
and "elegant," and some may be the more impressed with his 
greatness because they cannot understand him, and therefore 
suppose he must be a very deep man; but his efficiency is about 
equal to a beautifully painted and neatly fashioned wooden gun. 
"Verily he has his reward" in the admiration of the fashionable 
and silly, who applaud him as they do their favorite actor at the 
theater, though far less warmly, and are benefited about as 
much by the performances of the one as the other, with this 
marked difference as to immediate results, that the one puts 
them to laughing and crying on Saturday night while the other 
simply puts them to sleep on Sabbath. The third uses puns, wit, 
anecdotes; confines himself to no rules of rhetoric, logic, or 
grammar; glories in thinking for himself and has a contempt 
for the pretensions of the first and the prudery of the second 

The proper style for the pulpit and, indeed, for every kind of 
public speaking is such as rises spontaneously from the subject, 
and it is indispensable that the subject should be clearly con- 
ceived and deeply impressed upon the heart. Then in one of 
a cultivated mind emotion will certainly suggest appropriate 
language. Without passion there is no true eloquence, and 
passion prompts to natural and simple forms of expression. 
Sublimity must exist in the ideas or no language can produce 
them. The eloquence of our Saviour and of the writers of the 
sacred Volume gives the noblest specimens. The most sublime 
and important truths ever conceived are here uttered in the 
most simple words. And if at any time glowing imagery is 
employed, it results from the fervid condition of the mind under 
the contemplation of glorious and awful truths which struggle 
for utterance. Nor is this vehemence of the mind incompatible 
with a certain degree of calmness and self-possession so neces- 
sary to instruct and guide an audience. Preaching the gospel 

78 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

is the highest office in which the human faculties can be em- 
ployed. It is a solemn and holy work. "Woe" to him who 
trifles with it, as well as to him who "preaches not the gospel 
of Christ." 

The above reflections were suggested in connection with the 
history of Mr. McKendree's life. He seems to have had con- 
stantly before his mind the apostolic admonition: "Study to 
show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not 
to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." We have 
seen in what way he studied the Bible, how diligent he was in 
all the duties of a preacher and pastor, and also how he fasted, 
watched, prayed, and struggled in the pursuit of personal holi- 
ness; and we confess that we have drawn more largely from his 
Diary, that his successors in the ministry may for all time to 
come have before them his example to incite them to zeal and 
diligence. His style of preaching was remarkable for clearness 
and persuasiveness. Few .preachers studied the shades of 
difference in words as he did, and his language was transparent; 
the idea was distinctly seen, while the words employed in 
exhibiting it served only as a medium of intellectual vision. 
He was always in earnest. His soul was pervaded with a sense 
of God, and his heart yearned for the conversion of his fellow 
men. He felt "called of God" to this work, and nothing ever 
diverted his mind, his heart, or his physical energies from it. It 
was the one great end of his life; and that life, so admirable for 
its beautiful consistency and moral sublimity of purpose, so 
pure and useful, so full of labor and moral heroism, was the 
product of "faith unfeigned," and that faith was of "the opera- 
tion of God through the Spirit." 

What a commentary does such a life afford on the truth and 
excellency of the Christian religion! 

Friday, October 8, 1790, found him quite unwell, and fasting 
aggravated his sufferings. He, however, tried to preach. After 
dinner felt better; "had meeting at night for the black brethren" 
and found amongst them the life and power of religion. "How 
the world destroys the happiness of white folks!" 

"Saturday, October 9. Out in the woods by break of day, 
reading, praying, and meditating. Had great delight in the 
Scriptures, and felt very happy. Preached a close, heart- 
searching sermon to a serious congregation; held class meeting." 

"Sunday, October 10. Rose at 3 A.M.; family prayer, a 
time of heavenly sweetness to our souls. Went into the lovely 
fields when the blushing morn is dispersing gloomy night; 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 79 

breathed the sweet morning air with the love of God in my soul. 
About sunrise I began and preached to about thirty persons 
from: 'And the angel said unto the' women. Fear not ye, for I 
know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified: he is not here, for 
he is risen, as he said.' My dear Master gave me to feel what 
I preached. Love feast for the band society followed. how 
the saints did shout and tell the wonders of redeeming love! 
But had a cold time at public meeting/' 

"Monday, October 11. Rest day. Spent my time in reading, 
writing, prayer, and meditation, excepta little for conversation 
with my brethren. At twelve o'clock, in my general prayer for 
mankind, I prayed particularly for the preachers. Bless the 
Lord for the degree of conformity I feel to the Lord's will! O 
give me universal conformity and perfect resignation! In the 
evening walked to a distant grove and prostrated myself at the 
feet of the awful Jehovah. Met my brethren in covenant 
prayer; my soul all on fire." 

"Tuesday and Wednesday, October 12, 18. Comfortable 
peace; no temptation nor powerful exercise, but a heaven of 
calm, sweet peace and a continual rejoicing that 'in simplicity 
and godly sincerity I have had my conversation in the world.' 
Solitude is pleasant, meditation delightful, and my Bible is food 
for my soul." 

"Thursday, October 14- Had a comfortable morning. Bless 
the Lord, my soul, for his great mercy to feeble, unworthy me! 
I am surely one of the least of thy followers, and am not meet 
to be called a preacher. And then I am so backward in duty 
and so unfaithful in it." 

"Friday, October 15. Set out fasting, rode twenty miles, 
found a pretty large congregation, felt the spirit of preaching, 
but up rides a strange elder; would not preach for me. how 
the cross began to bear me down ! Lord , what is man? Preached ; 
my blessed Master made the cross light. Visited the pre- 
cious family of Brother Hill after dinner; met a black class to 
my comfort, for they seemed perfectly happy and had 'a good 

From the following Sunday to Thursday he was sick, and 
says th?.t, while others seem to find the time of affliction a 
season of joy, it is not so with him, but a time of trial, yet, upon 
close examination, finds no condemnation for known sin; "have 
had some weeping times this week." 

The ensuing week seems to have been a period of bodily 
affliction and labor, yet was he happy and exultant. On Friday, 

80 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

October 22, he "arose quite unwell; rode twenty miles fasting; 
preached and held class meeting, had a glorious time; several 
were much wrought on; one joined Society, but none con- 
verted. At seven o'clock the moon was eclipsed; thought of 
the day of judgment." 

Saturday, October 80. Quarterly meeting began on his cir- 
cuit. "Rose at 2 A.M., could not lie in bed longer; read my 
Book, prayed, and meditated. To-day Brother Paup preached 
a beautiful sermon; Brother Spencer followed. At night it fell 
to my lot to hold meeting; Christians were happy, backsliders 
cut to the heart, and one soul sprang into life. My cup was 
filled to the brim." 

Sunday, October 31, was a blessed day, early exercises, as 
usual; "a sweet and awfully glorious time at sacrament; a great 
many communicants. Brother Paup preached to the white con- 
gregation; I went into the grove with the black people, and of 
a truth Jesus was there." 

Perhaps I have tired the patience of my readers with the 
minute details of Mr. McKendree's Diary. My object is to 
present a true portraiture of his character with an earnest desire 
that his exemplary and profound piety may be useful to the 
Church, and especially to young preachers. Having given a 
specimen of his daily life and labors, I shall not henceforth use 
his Diary very often, except to mark important incidents in his 

" On Thursday, November 4, met the preachers in conference 
at Brother Young's; twenty-two preachers present, and by nine 
o'clock agreed to send no member to council, but stand as we 
are until next Conference. Brother O'Kelly preached." This 
was not the regular session of the annual council, but was a con- 
vention, called by "proclamation of Mr. O'Kelly, inviting the 
preachers to meet in Mecklenburg," the object being to fore- 
stall the approaching council. It should be borne in mind that 
the council was a favorite measure with Bishop Asbury. That 
Mr. O'Kelly had already by letters prejudiced Dr. Coke against 
it, and that he had been untiring in his efforts to array the Vir- 
ginia preachers against it. Early on the next day, Friday, 
November 5, 1790, the Conference assembled again; the docu- 
ment which had been ordered was presented, approved, and 
directed to be forwarded to the council; thus placing the Vir- 
ginia Conference almost in the position of seceders. 

The regular session of the council was held for this year in 
Philip Rogers's house, Baltimore, December 1. In view of the 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 81 

opposition of Dr. Coke and the disorganizing tendency of Mr. 
O'Kelly's course, Bishop Asbury, "for the sake of union," gave 
up the council, and they resolved not to send any "recom- 
mendatory propositions" to the Conferences, thus letting it 
silently pass away. 

Having taken an affectionate leave of his old circuit, he 
started immediately for a new field of labor to which he had 
been changed, as was then customary, by his presiding elder. 
Taking his father's house on his route, he gladly embraced the 
opportunity of visiting home and spending two delightful days 
with his beloved kindred. He was "comforted" and refreshed 
by the visit, and felt very "thankful for the opportunity." His 
pleasure was, however, diminished by the illness of his youngest 
sister and the dangerous indisposition of his aged father. When 
the hour came for his departure, there was a struggle in his 
heart. Fain would he have lingered awhile amid the scenes of 
his early life and watched by the beds of his sick sister and 
father; but duty called him away to preach among strangers 
the gospel of Christ, and with tears and prayers, commending 
his loved ones to God, he turned his back again upon his peace- 
ful home and felt that the preacher had triumphed over the 

His course during this year was similar to the year previous. 
Traveling, studying, preaching, holding class meetings, fasting, 
and visiting his charge from house to house were his daily 
history. " Rose early, lit my candle, and found the same sweet- 
ness in devotion and in riding the Lord's Word. Spent this 
day and until eleven o'clock at night in closely studying the 
Scriptures and reading Church history with great delight. Rode 
through piercing wind and a hard rain twelve miles, which gave 
me a violent pain in the head. Tempted to omit 'watching' on 
account of headache, but concluded that the more costly the 
sacrifice, the stronger is the proof of sincerity. Every night has 
been a watch night with me for some time," etc. These quota- 
tions evince the spirit with which he prosecuted his mission. 

During this year he seems to have had a great many meetings 
with the black people and to have enjoyed himself greatly in 
his labors among them, thus giving an example worthy the 
imitation of every minister of Christ. 

On December 31, 1790, while Mr. McKendree and others 

were holding a meeting at Brother M.'s, Bishop Asbury arrived 

there. He had been making a tour in the lower part of Virginia, 

had preached in James City and in the city of Williamsburg 


82 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

and, after crossing James River in a boat the bottom of which 
was covered with ice, had ridden through a snowstorm for 
several miles. Coming to Brother M.'s, he "found Brother 
Paup preaching and the people shouting." The good old 
Bishop says: "I preached on Ephesians v. 17-19. I afterwards 
had an interview with Brother Paup and a more full account of 
our disaffected brethren." Indeed, so soon as he entered the 
district of Mr. O'Kelly, he says: "I heard some painful cir- 
cumstances relative to our disaffected brethren. I leave these 
things to God." Mr. O'Kelly had scattered discord broadcast 
over his whole district and was likely to disaffect the whole 
Conference. He ought not to have been continued upon the 
district a day after he evinced his design. It was Bishop 
Asbury's leniency, not to say timidity, that gave to this dan- 
gerous man the opportunity of doing so much mischief. It 
would have been better to deprive him at once of the district. 
He had already gone too far to retract and nothing was gained, 
but much lost, by attempts at conciliating him. 

Mr. McKendree, who had spent all his time as a preacher 
under Mr. O'Kelly, was accustomed to hear Bishop Asbury 
alluded to by his elder as ambitious and aristocratic; and in 
proportion to his confidence in the latter, the former was depre- 
ciated in his estimation. Still he was honest and candid, and 
this interview must have awakened doubts in his mind as to the 
justness of his elder's representations. His account of this 
meeting with the Bishop is as follows: 

"Our reverend Bishop arrived, gave us a most excellent dis- 
course, at the close of which the power of the Lord came down 
on the people." 

"Saturday, January 1, 1791. Bishop Asbury, two other 
preachers, and myself rode about sixteen miles. The wind was 
very keen and the snow about eight inches deep; our poor horses 
were much fatigued and ourselves pierced with the cold. We 
got to Mr. Blunt's. I am astonished at the Bishop's sweet 
simplicity and uncommon familiarity. Love appeared to sweet- 
en all our conversation." 

"Astonished at the Bishop's sweet simplicity!" And why? 
Forsooth, because he had often heard him represented as austere 
and despotic. Yes, the pure and noble Asbury, the father of 
American Methodism, whose life was one continuous sacrifice, 
one long, yearning struggle of soul, body, and spirit for the 
peace and prosperity of Zion, and who literally fell a victim to 
unselfish and never-ceasing toil in the Master's cause, even he 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 83 

astonished Mr. McKendree by his simple and familiar manners! 
And yet this favorable impression was soon to be erased by the 
unfortunate presiding elder, to be renewed again, however, and 
grow stronger during many years of associated labor and even 
until the grave had closed upon the remains of the wise and 
good old Bishop. 

The death of Mr. Wesley, which occurred March 2, 1791, 
deeply affected the Methodists in America as well as in England. 
They felt as a large and affectionate family feels in the loss of a 
father. Their enemies had predicted that this event would be 
speedily followed by the dissolution of the connection, and 
many of their friends were fearful of the same result. When the 
sad intelligence reached the United States, Dr. Coke and Bishop 
Asbury were traveling together through Virginia. The Doctor 
immediately resolved to return to England. Before his depar- 
ture, however, he and Bishop Asbury attended the Virginia 
Conference in Petersburg, April 20, and "the affair of the 
council was suspended until a General Conference." This 
seemed to give satisfaction even to Mr. O'Kelly, and the session 
was peaceful and happy. The time of holding the Conference 
was here changed from the spring to the winter, and the en- 
suing Conference was appointed to be held in December. Of 
course Mr. McKendree attended the Conference. Here he was 
appointed to Amelia Circuit, with John Baldwin as his colleague 
and Mr. O'Kelly again as his elder. 

As the Diary of Mr. McKendree, to which reference has so 
often been made, leaves here a chasm in his history, we have 
no other account of the manner in which he conducted himself 
during the remainder of this year but his own general statement. 
"I enjoyed peace of mind and comfortable fellowship with those 
among whom I labored." 

The Conference began at Lane's Chapel December 23, 1791, 
Bishop Asbury presiding. Dr. Coke was still in England. 
Asbury says, "This Conference began and ended in peace;" 
and doubtless this was greatly promoted by the announcement 
that a General Conference would be held the ensuing year. Mr. 
O'Kelly and his friends seemed satisfied. On Sunday, Decem- 
ber 25, 1791, Mr. McKendree was ordained elder by Bishop 
Asbury, as appears from his parchment of ordination now before 
me. And now, having followed his history up to the period of 
his induction into the full office of the ministry and, from the 
standpoint which his biographer occupies, contemplating the 
remainder of his long, useful, and exemplary life and labors, we 

84 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

are forcibly impressed with the conviction that few ministers 
of Christ have ever taken upon them the solemn vows of the 
ordination service more thoroughly penetrated with a convic- 
tion of their holy and sublime import or have given such evi- 
dence of their inflexible purpose to keep these vows inviolable to 
life's last hour. Happy for the Church and the world if all his 
brethren would follow him as he followed Christ. 


McKendree appointed to Greenville Circuit in 1791 General Conference, 
1792 O'Kelly withdraws and dies McKendree declines the work, but 
soon resumes it Asbury appoints him to Norfolk Conference in 
Petersburg in 1793 Travels three months with Asbury Union Cir- 
cuit Philip Bruce, presiding elder Tobias Gibson, his colleague 
Conference in 1794 at Mabry's John Kobler Conference, 1795 Is 
made presiding elder Continued three years 1798 he presides in the 
bounds of Baltimore Conference In 1800 Bishop Asbury takes him to 
the West Large district Difficulties Labors Usefulness 1801 
travels through the wilderness with Asbury In 1804, General Confer- 
ence Jerks Dancing Shaking Quakers Seceders from Presbyterian 
Church Marshallites Stoneites McKendree chief conservator of 
Methodism in the West. 

AT the Lane's Chapel Conference, held in Southampton 
County, Va., December 23, 1791, Mr. McKendree was ap- 
pointed to the charge of Greenville Circuit, with Joel Tucker 
as his "helper." Several things conspired to make him reluctant 
to enter upon the duties of this charge. It was the circuit in 
which his relations and many of his old acquaintances resided; 
there he was converted and began his ministry. He was aware 
that it would be necessary to execute the rules of the Discipline 
upon many who were "older members of the societies than him- 
self," some of whom considered themselves his "superiors"; 
and fearing they would not bear from him this wholesome and 
important moral regimen, he felt strongly opposed to this ap- 
pointment when first announced. But as there was no alter- 
native except a cowardly backing out of the responsibilities 
which, in God's providence, had been devolved upon him, he 
determined to undertake his duties in humble dependence upon 
his divine Master. He was soon convinced that his fears were 
groundless. His old friends received him warmly, the com- 
munity evinced their respect for him by attending his ministry 
and treating him in every respect with the attention which his 
pure personal character and his holy office demanded, and al- 
though he was compelled in the discharge of his duty as preach- 
er in charge to exclude many from the Church, he says that "no 
fixed prejudices in consequence of the administration resulted. 
True, we had but few additions, yet we had many sweet and 
precious meetings. The work of sanctification revived," etc. 

The letter of Mr. McKendree to Bishop Asbury, already 
quoted, reveals the fact that his happiness and usefulness at 

86 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

this time were diminished by prejudices engendered in his mind 
by Mr. O'Kelly, his old friend and presiding elder, who attacked 
the character of Bishop Asbury, more than insinuated that he 
was insincere and ambitious, and that the ruin of the Church 
could be prevented in no other way but by "counteracting 

The General Conference met in Baltimore, October 31, 1792. 1 
This was the first Conference of the kind held since the organi- 
zation of the Church in 1784 and was composed of all the travel- 
ing preachers in full connection. And it continued to meet 
quadrennially in the same capacity and with the same almost 
unlimited power until the session of 1800, when the terms of 
membership were restricted to those who had traveled four 
years, and in 1808 the delegated General Conference was sub- 
stituted for this meeting of the whole body of the preachers. 
The Conference of 1792 was a very important session. The 
several Annual Conferences had agreed to meet to review the 
condition of the Church, to revise and adopt such rules and 
measures as might be found proper, and to settle certain ques- 
tions which threatened the peace, if not the very existence, of 
the Church. The body was comparatively a large one, repre- 
senting every part of the connection, and in this respect was the 
first General Conference after the organization of the Church in 

: In 1858, Bishop Morris, in an article in the Christian Advocate and 
Journal, said: "If any regular sessions (of the General Conference) were 
held in 1788 and 1792, the Minutes were not printed, probably not re- 
corded, and are lost. It is presumable they were held, and that they were 
held in the autumn." To which F. S. DeHass replies: "The Bishop is 
right in his presumption that they were held, and held in the autumn. But 
we are happy to say the Minutes are not entirely lost, and at some future 
day we may give the Minutes of these two important Conferences in full. 
The first met September 10, 1788, the other November 1, 1792." 

We think that the Bishop and Mr. DeHass are both in error as to 1788, 
the former as to his "presumption," the latter as to his facts. There is no 
evidence that a General Conference was held in 1788. There was a Con- 
ference held in Baltimore on September 10 of that year, which continued 
from Wednesday until Sunday; but it was not a General Conference, but 
the annual session of the Baltimore Conference. The " Council" plan was 
introduced; the bishops and presiding elders met instead of a General Con- 
ference, from about 1788 to 1792, when that plan was superseded by a 
regular General Conference, or Convention. The delegated General Con- 
ference, it will be remembered, was provided for in 1808. If Mr. DeHass 
can give us the Minutes of the Conference of 1788 "in full," or evenin part, 
we shall be greatly surprised. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 87 

1784. Dr. Coke and Bishop Asbury "presided conjointly over 
their deliberations." Mr. McKendree, accompanied by Mr. 
O'Kelly, went to Baltimore to attend its session. They lodged 
together; their room became the place for the meeting of Mr. 
0' Kelly's discontented friends. The result of the caucus was 
an attempt to restrict the power of the bishops in the appoint- 
ment of the preachers. For this end Mr. O'Kelly brought for- 
ward a resolution giving to "any preacher who may think him- 
self injured by the appointment of the bishop the liberty to 
appeal to the Conference." After three days' animated dis- 
cussion, the resolution was lost by a large majority. Next 
morning he signified in writing to the Conference that he should 
withdraw on account of the failure of his motion. Throughout 
this whole proceeding Bishop Asbury behaved with his usual 
modesty and propriety. He resigned the chair to Dr. Coke and 
absented himself from the Conference that the members might 
be under no restraint on account of his presence. This decision 
by the great body of the preachers themselves in favor of con- 
tinuing the appointing power in the hands of the bishop, after 
having tested the system for many years, was a signal vindica- 
tion, both of the administration and their devotion to the great 
cardinal feature of Methodism, its itinerancy. 

But Mr. O'Kelly had gone too far to retract. In vain did the 
Conference send Freeborn Garrettson and two other members 
to dissuade him from secession and reassure him of their good 
will; Dr. Coke in vain sought to pacify his feelings in a personal, 
private interview. Nothing but division would do him. He 
broke off, left the city, and induced Mr. McKendree and some 
others to leave with him. 

All except Mr. O'Kelly, however, asked and obtained per- 
mission to return home without giving notice as to their ulterior 
purposes. Indeed, so far as they were concerned, they do not 
seem to have had any fixed purpose. They had many consulta- 
tions upon their journey home. The latter part of the trip, Mr. 
McKendree was the only companion of his late presiding elder. 
He unfolded his plan to his young protege*. It was to have "a 
republican, no slavery, glorious Church! Bishop Asbury was 
a pope; the General Conference was a revolutionizing body; the 
Bishop and his creatures were working the ruin of the Church to 
gratify their pride and ambition!" 

Indeed, there is a strong probability that, knowing he would 
be impeached on account of his denial of the distinct personality 

88 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of the Holy Trinity, he felt himself " in a strait between expulsion 
and secession." 1 

The Conference adjourned on November 14, after having re- 
vised the Discipline with "regard to its subject matter as a 
manual of Christian duty and as to the form and arrangement 
of the book itself, but not effecting its fundamental laws or 

On November 26 Bishop Asbury opened the Conference for 
the Virginia District in Manchester. The interval between the 
General and the Annual Conferences was too short to afford 
time for the removal of the feeling excited at the General Con- 
ference. Sympathizing deeply with his old and apparently his 
best friend, imperfectly acquainted with the subject of Church 
government, and with the docility almost of a child confiding 
in the misrepresentations of Mr. Asbury's character and of the 
consequences likely to result to the Church from the action of 
the General Conference as instilled into his mind by Mr. 0' Kel- 
ly, Mr. McKendree respectfully wrote to the Conference de- 
clining to take an appointment for the ensuing year. At the 
suggestion of Bishop Asbury, the Conference generously agreed 
that Mr. O'Kelly, "in view of his age and services," should re- 
ceive his annual salary of 40, as when he traveled in the con- 
nection, provided he should not excite divisions among the 
members; and he actually received his salary for a part of the 
year. But, unfortunately, he resolved to rend all the ties that 
bound him to the Church and set up in opposition to it his 
ideal "glorious Church." I need not repeat the sad narrative 
of his subsequent history, of the prejudices he excited against 
the Bishop and the Conference; of his too successful efforts to 
draw off disciples after him; of his waning influence, until he 
lost the confidence and affections of the people almost alto- 
gether; and of his death, in 1826, in the ninety-second year of 
his age, preceded by a very touching interview between Bishop 
Asbury and himself. It is a melancholy story, and it is hoped 
may never be repeated in the future history of our Methodism. 

Shortly after the close of the Virginia Conference, Bishop 
Asbury passed through the neighborhood of Mr. McKendree's 
father. The mind of young McKendree was ill at ease about 
his duty and, having had an interview with the Bishop, he 
was treated with great kindness and invited to travel with him 
awhile. The invitation was accepted, and as they went from 

"Life and Times of Jesse Lee," p. 26. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 89 

one of the Bishop's appointments to another through the eastern 
portion of Virginia, they calmly and fully discussed the subjects 
of Church government, especially Methodist government, the 
late attempt to change the system, the course and design of Mr. 
0' Kelly, and the consequences likely to result to himself and 
others. Bishop Asbury did not correspond to the description 
which Mr. McKendree had heard of him. Instead of being 
austere, proud, ambitious, and bent upon subjecting the liber- 
ties of the membership and the ministry to his will, he was sur- 
prised to find him humble, devout, self-denying, and unceasing 
in his efforts for the welfare of the Church. He soon understood, 
too, the evil consequences which would inevitably follow the 
adoption of Mr. 0' Kelly's late favorite measure, the ruin of the 
general superintendency and of the whole itinerant system. 
The spell of the enchanter was broken; humbled and mortified 
at his own weakness, with characteristic candor he confessed 
his error, was received again into the confidence of the noble 
and warm-hearted old Bishop, and at once sent to the city of 
Norfolk as the stationed preacher. This is the amount of Mr. 
McKendree's defection. He had been perplexed and bewildered 
by the misrepresentations of his presiding elder, "cast down, 
but not destroyed." He did not withdraw from the Church or 
the ministry. His itinerancy was temporarily suspended, at 
his own request; but after about a month he resumed his posi- 
tion and his work in the ranks with his late associates, having 
become a wiser man. His love of the Church and the purity of 
his motives were unquestionable. The mental and religious 
struggle through which he passed in this affair led him to ex- 
amine more critically the system of Church government recom- 
mended by Mr. Wesley and adopted by the General Conference 
of 1784, and resulted in strengthening his attachment to the 
existing institutions of the Church and fixing him inflexibly 
against all sudden and serious changes in its polity. Disaffec- 
tion to Methodism, it has been said, is a disease which never 
attacks a member or minister but once in his life. If he recover 
from this attack, he is in no danger of it any more. And so it 
was with Mr. McKendree. Henceforth he was ever among the 
most zealous, able, and consistent advocates of its polity, never 
wavering or ceasing to defend and promote the welfare of the 
Church with all the energies of his soul and body to the day of 
his death. 

The name of William McKendree appears in the "Minutes of 
1793," in charge of Norfolk and Portsmouth. His own concise 

90 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

account of this year's work is as follows: "Though it was a 
year of contention and much confusion, I enjoyed peace with 
the members of the station." This contention and confusion 
were no doubt mainly owing to the efforts of Mr. 0' Kelly and 
his adherents to prejudice the community against the Church 
and draw off its membership. It was a time of trial. Many 
excellent members and some useful preachers, influenced by 
their respect for Mr. 0' Kelly and not fully apprehending the 
subject, were misled and abandoned the Church. Church rela- 
tions and family ties were rudely sundered, love and harmony 
were succeeded by "strife and every evil work," and the 
enemies of Methodism exulted at the prospect of witnessing the 
fulfillment of its predicted dissolution. And although the prin- 
cipal agent in this deplorable secession soon saw that his plan 
was a failure so far as regards his usefulness or the ruin of the 
Church he had deserted, yet within the bounds of his old dis- 
trict and among many of his old friends, he wrought irreparable 
injury. Many long years have scarcely yet obliterated the 
painful results of that day upon the descendants of those who 
were so unfortunate as to have followed him. Indeed, no one 
gained anything by this schism, while the Church, the commu- 
nity, and even the agitators themselves were injured. 

The lesson enforced by this sad occurrence is that a needless 
rending of Church relations is a great evil. To justify it, there 
must be a conviction that its doctrines or its economy are un- 
scriptural or its administration subversive of the high and holy 
ends of Church organization. Duty to the Church itself, as 
well as fealty to its Head, may demand the sacrifice of union 
when the Church departs from the precepts of the Bible and 
sets herself to a course which must work the ruin of the great 
object of her organization; but woe to those who for trivial 
causes or selfish ends seek to divide the Church of God! 

At the ensuing Conference, which was held in Petersburg, 
November 25, 1793, his character was passed as blameless; 
fifty-five preachers present, Bishop Asbury presiding. His 
appointment for the next year was to Union Circuit, with 
Nicholas Waters as his helper. Tobias Gibson was also ap- 
pointed to this circuit for one quarter. It seems that at this 
Conference he offered to travel awhile with Bishop Asbury, 
that his offer was accepted, and that the quarter spent in the 
company of that excellent and wise man was very profitably 
employed. At the close of the three months, he entered upon 
the work assigned him, and Tobias Gibson, according to a pre- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 91 

vious arrangement, became the Bishop's traveling companion. 
Union Circuit was in the State of South Carolina, and his pre- 
siding elder this year was Philip Bruce, of precious memory. 
We have no record of the manner in which he conducted himself 
upon this circuit, but doubt not he manifested his usual zeal and 
industry and was useful in getting souls converted and building 
up the Church. 

Heretofore separate Conferences had been held in Virginia, 
North, and South Carolina; but by agreement among them, 
they were all to meet at Petersburg on November 25, 1794. The 
smallpox prevailing in that place at the time, the Conference 
was held at "Sister Mabry's," in Greenville County, about 
eighty preachers present, and Bishop Asbury presiding. At 
this Conference, he was appointed to Bottetourt Circuit, Vir- 
ginia, under John Kobler as his presiding elder. Here again we 
have no written data of his course; but as he was considered 
worthy and faithful by his colleagues, we have a right to pre- 
sume that neither his character nor his manner of life changed 
for the worse. And this inference is strengthened by the fact 
that by the next Conference, held at Salem Chapel, Mecklen- 
burg County, Va., November 24, 1795, he was appointed, by 
Bishop Asbury, presiding elder over a very important district 
in the Virginia Conference. He had now been eight years a 
regular itinerant preacher. He had won the esteem of every 
community among whom he had labored, and enjoyed in a high 
degree the confidence and love of the preachers. He had been 
studious, prompt in the discharge of every duty, zealous, and 
laborious. His standard of morals and religious experience had 
been the Holy Scriptures. He had sought and found the bless- 
ing of sanctifying love and in every manner had made "full 
proof of his ministry." Now he was called to preside over a 
district and at the same time was placed as preacher in charge 
of a circuit, for in those days "the higher the office, the harder 
the work." The next year his district was greatly enlarged, 
and he was found to be admirably adapted to this work of 
supervising the operations of the preachers and the general 
interests of the Church within his district. He remained upon 
it three years. As presiding elder, his sphere of useful labor was 
greatly enlarged. His district extended from the Chesapeake 
Bay over the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains and em- 
braced an extensive region of territory upon the western waters. 
The rides were long, and the charge required much preaching 

92 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

and devolved upon him many cares. The following is his own 
account of these three years of sacrifice and toil: 

" I was blessed with many friends on this district, abundant in 
kind offices, and some of them able counselors. We were blessed 
with a revival of religion; many professed to obtain regenerating 
grace and joined the Church. The members provoked one 
another to love and good works, and their advancement in the 
divine life was evident. But the abundant labors and care which 
the charge imposed were too great for my strength. My studies 
were partially prevented by attention to other branches of duty, 
and my nervous system was somewhat impaired. But I was 
fully compensated in having intimate union and communion 
with the adorable Saviour, and the increasing prosperity of the 
Church at once invigorated my zeal and increased my joy in the 

In 1798, he was appointed to a district lying in the bounds of 
the Baltimore Conference, contiguous to that he had traveled 
the three preceding years and which was almost as large as the 
former field of his labors. It extended from the Chesapeake Bay 
over the Blue Ridge and terminated at the foot of the Alleghany 
Mountains. This was to him a year of labor and trials; but he 
says: "They were forgotten in the overwhelming communion 
with God and reviving interviews with my followers. Here I 
found fathers and mothers in Israel by whose example I was 
edified and comforted." 

Following the narrative of Bishop Soule in his funeral dis- 
course already adverted to, we proceed to say that in the spring 
of 1800 he was returned to the district from which he had been 
taken the year before, and in the fall of the same year Bishops 
Asbury and Whatcoat passed through his district and took him 
with them to the Western Conference, which met at Bethel, Ky., 
in October, 1800. 

Here he was appointed to the oversight of the whole Confer- 
ence, in the character of a presiding elder of the district which 
embraced the State of Kentucky and that part of Virginia west 
of the Great Kanawha River, East and West Tennessee, and 
all the settled territory west of the Ohio River, including what is 
now the State of Ohio, and an extensive mission in the State of 
Illinois. The Natchez Mission was also connected with this 
charge. He had now to travel about fifteen hundred miles to 
compass his district, and the whole of it, with the exception of 
East Tennessee and Western Virginia, was a new and rapidly 
populating country. This was a field of labor and enterprise 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 93 

well suited to the enlightened views and ardent devotion of this 
excellent minister of Christ. It was a work worthy of St. Paul 
and which required the zeal of an apostle to accomplish it. He 
entered into it with a deep sense of his dependence upon divine 
aid and with that vigorous and persevering activity which, by 
the blessing of God, was attended with abundant success. It 
should be remembered that a very large portion of the country 
embraced in his new charge was just being settled with emi- 
grants from the old States, who were subject to the discomforts 
common to the first settlers in all new countries. Small com- 
panies of these emigrants would locate themselves in neighbor- 
hoods many miles remote from each other, without any method 
of intercourse but the pocket compass, trees marked with the 
ax, or the tops of bushes bent down and half broken. These 
were the landmarks and highways of our McKendree through 
a large part of the Valley of the Mississippi. 

It was his wise and benevolent plan, with the handful of 
preachers in his charge, to advance with the population of the 
country and to plant the standard of the cross and preach 
Jesus and the resurrection in the frontier settlements. 

In the prosecution of this plan, he and his noble band of 
fellow laborers had necessarily to encounter and overcome many 
formidable difficulties. They were frequently ministers of 
gospel consolation to the people in their camps and cabins, in 
the woods and canebrakes, before their fields had been opened 
sufficiently to raise a comfortable support for their families. In 
getting to them, for the want of roads or paths, they were con- 
ducted through the trackless woods; and for want of bridges 
or boats, they swam rivers and creeks They carried their pro- 
visions for man and beast on their horses, cooked their simple 
meals in the wilderness, slept at night upon their blankets and 
under the open sky; owls, bears, wolves, and panthers were their 
serenaders, and sometimes the wily and cruel Indian dogged 
their steps by day and hovered around their camp fires at 
night, to steal or kill as his sagacity might dictate. In the morn- 
ing, if spared, they raised their hearts in gratitude and went on 
their way rejoicing. 

But let us hear his own description, drawn from experience, 
of the Methodist traveling preacher's life in the Western frontier 
work: "While on the way through these frontier settlements, 
if we came to a creek or river, we had the privilege of swim- 
ming it; and, when safely landed on the other bank, it was a 
consolation to reflect we had left that obstruction behind and 

94 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

that the way to the next lay open and plain before us. If night 
overtook us before we could reach a house, it was our privilege 
to gather wood where we could find it, make a fire, eat our mor- 
sel, and supplicate a throne of grace with as free access as in a 
palace or a church. Being weary, we rested sweetly and securely 
under the divine protection; and when we arrived at our des- 
tination, if the accommodations were of the humblest kind, we 
had the inexpressible satisfaction of being received with a hearty 
welcome and accommodated with the best the family could 
afford; and, though very inferior in the estimation of the deli- 
cate and those accustomed to sumptuous fare, yet all the real 
wants of nature were supplied. We ate heartily, slept sweetly, 
and rejoiced with the pious and affectionate people who received 
and treated the ministers of the gospel as angels of God: and, 
above all, when the time arrived for us to deliver our message, 
the people flocked together, and seemed to want to hear what God 
the Lord would say. The prayers of the pious ascended the hill 
of the Lord; divine power attended the preaching of the word; 
sinners were convicted, many were converted to God, and the 
Church was enlarged and 'built up in the faith once delivered to 
the saints.'" 

In conclusion, he says: "My appointment required much 
riding. I preached often and sustained a great charge; and yet 
I esteem those among the happiest days of my life. Strange 
as it may seem, there, in the midst of exposure and many priva- 
tions, my impaired constitution was restored and my general 
health greatly improved. I enjoyed peace and consolation 
through faith and was enabled to walk with God." Eight years 
of Mr. McKendree's life i. e., from 1800 to 1808 were spent 
in this way while presiding over the work in the wilds of the 
Western frontier. They were years of almost inconceivable 
hardship and toil, but of great usefulness and happiness. His 
being selected for this post by Mr. Asbury seems to have been 
providential, for scarcely another man could have been found 
combining so many qualifications for this delicate and difficult 
field of ministerial labor. 

It evinced that great peculiarity in Mr. Asbury's character 
by which he seemed almost intuitively to read the characters of 
men and was thus enabled to select the proper preachers for the 
appointments. Never was a more felicitous appointment 
made than was the selection of this devoted servant of Jesus 
to the Westernjwork. His deep piety and fervid zeal, 
his intimate knowledge of the doctrines and Discipline of 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 95 

the Church, his remarkable capacity to govern and to infuse 
into the preachers his own spirit; his almost morbid love of 
order, and his methodical manner of conducting business; his 
wonderful astuteness and quickness of apprehension, com- 
bined with a grave and yet most prepossessing personal appear- 
ance, and his wonderful power of illustrating whatever he sought 
to teach all concurred to mark him as preeminently the man 
for the people and the country. God seems to have raised him 
up for this very position; and while thousands have already 
blessed God for it, future generations of Methodists in the West 
and South will look back with gratitude to his influence in 
building up and extending the work of God in this wide field of 
his operations. How much Methodism owes to him for its suc- 
cess in this region can never be known until the light of eternity 
shall reveal it. 

Never did the Church more urgently need an able and de- 
voted leader to guide and control its operations than did the 
vast district to which Mr. McKendree was assigned at the 
Western Conference of 1800. Indications of religious quicken- 
ing had occurred in several sections of the country in 1799; and 
in 1800, what is familiarly known as "the great revival in the 
Western country" took place. Bishop Asbury had not visited 
them since 1793. The district had been left without a pre- 
siding elder at their last Conference; the circuits, which were 
very large, had but one preacher, and local preachers were 
quite scarce. Among the latter, however, the names of John 
McGee, Nathanael Harris, Benjamin Northcut, Philip Taylor, 
and others deserve notice; while among the few itinerants 
scattered over the region William Burke, Henry Smith, John 
Sale, John Page, Thomas Wilkerson, and others not so well 
known, were bold and powerful ministers of Christ. Among 
the Presbyterians, Messrs. McGready, William McGee (brother 
to the Methodist preacher), Rankin, and Hodge, deserve honor- 
able mention for their talents and usefulness in this revival. 

If the history of this glorious work had not been already given 
to the public, it might be profitable to trace the progress and 
results of it, but as that has been done with sufficient minute- 
ness by several writers, we shall only add that it seemed to 
burst forth almost simultaneously in various places in Kentucky 
and in that part of Middle Tennessee bordering upon the line of 
Kentucky. Cane Ridge, Red River, and Bourbon County, Ky., 
were specially the places where the work received a mighty im- 
pulse. Meetings began to be held all over the country, attended 

96 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

by immense crowds of most deeply excited hearers. The Pres- 
byterian and Methodist preachers labored together as brethren; 
a "union" was formed; the large meetings were placed under 
the charge of committees, who were to appoint the preachers to 
the pulpit and supervise the exercises as representatives of the 
two Churches. Camp meetings sprung up as a convenience, if 
not a necessity. The revival spread with unparalleled rapidity 
and overwhelming power; meetings were prolonged day and 
night for eight or ten days successively, and many thousands in 
Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio were the trophies of the work. 
As might be expected in so widespread and general a state of 
religious excitement, there were excesses and irregularities among 
some of the subjects. The exercises known as jerks and dancing 
appeared, although discountenanced generally by the more 
intelligent and sedate part of the ministers and members. A 
great deal of enthusiasm was excited, and doubtless some fanat- 
icism also; yet a vast amount of good was accomplished and 
many who seemed to act from impulse and ran into excesses in 
manifesting their emotions became steady and consistent Chris- 
tians and closed life in peace and hope. The Churches had a 
fresh baptism and were united in fraternal love. Unfortunately, 
however, the peculiarities of Methodism class meetings, love 
feasts, and the regular operations of the itinerant system were 
suspended for the occasion, under the influence of the "union 
agreement;" and the supposed Arminian tendency of the Cum- 
berland Presbytery and their refusal to withhold licenses from 
men who were useful and acceptable to the community but were 
not classically educated brought about a serious and permanent 
division of the Presbyterian Church. 

This refusal on the part of the Cumberland Presbytery to 
abide by the requirements of their Church resulted in the seces- 
sion of some excellent ministers and the organization of the 
Cumberland Presbyterian Church. This Church, having ma- 
terially modified the Calvinism of the Westminster Con- 
fession, and adopted an itinerant system of preaching, has 
accomplished much good in the West and South and continues 
to evince that it is a true branch of the living Vine. 

Mr. McKendree arrived in this country when this religious 
excitement was at its height, and passed, along with his vener- 
able traveling companions, through Kentucky, and down to 
Nashville, Tenn., preaching with great power and success wher- 
ever he went. The more he surveyed the field of his future 
labor, the more was he impressed with the exceeding delicacy 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 97 

and difficulty of the task before him. He clearly saw that the 
time of sifting and of trial was at hand, that the existing state of 
things could not endure, the union would soon terminate, and 
that the least impropriety on the part of any of the preachers 
would be quoted as a violation of the "agreement." He re- 
solved, if he could, he would avoid this odium; and owing to his 
prudence and firmness, the Methodists came honorably out of 
this entangling alliance, and the parties resumed the proper and 
independent exercise of their respective Church regulations 
without a serious breach of esteem and brotherly love. 1 

Mr. McKendree was now in a position which called forth all 
the qualities of his mind and heart and taxed to their utmost 
capacity the energies of his manly and vigorous body. His 
eminent piety and punctual attention to all the rules of holy 
living made him an admirable example both for preachers and 
members and gave force to his office and his character. His 
clear apprehension of biblical doctrines, his thorough acquaint- 
ance with Methodism, his tact in simplifying to the most 
ordinary capacity any subject which he had studied, his persua- 
sive and winning manners, united to a remarkable power of 
close and logical analysis, blending at the same time the tender- 
est pathos with an occasional burst of the sublime and even the 
terrible in his moments of earnest and impassioned eloquence, 
made him a model preacher, and, by the blessing of God, gave 
great efficiency to his ministrations. 

Yet all these qualifications, however important to his useful- 
ness as a preacher, would not have insured his success as 
the presiding officer in a great moral and religious enter- 

!Qur McKendree's advice to preachers and people was: "Hold fast to 
your doctrine and discipline. Others may get along without rule, but we 
cannot." This was wholesome and seasonable advice, and was attended 
to. It gave offense to some, but was a means of keeping us together, and 
we prospered. But, mournful to tell, those who got above creeds, forms, 
and confessions, while they professed to be Christians, went from one ex- 
treme to another, till three of their most zealous and flaming ministers 
(Presbyterian) landed in Shakerism; one, if not more, became an Arian; 
one, at least, went among the Christians, and the rest held fast or returned 
to their Confession of Faith. H. Smith's "Recollections of an Old Itinerant," 
pp. 59, 60. 

The Presbyterians in Cumberland managed their revival much better; 
for when they could no longer subscribe to every part of their Confession 
of Faith, they organized an independent Presbytery, into which they ad- 
mitted men of gifts and usefulness, without requiring a collegiate educa- 
tion, etc. P. 60. 

98 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

prise. And happily these were not all, nor were they his chief 
qualifications for the post he occupied. He had a mature mind, 
a sound judgment, a determined will, and, what is of infinite 
importance to one in his position, could arrange and plan his 
work with a view to ulterior results with almost unequaled 
skill; and what he planned with so much wisdom, he executed 
with equal ardor and perseverance. Nothing diverted his atten- 
tion from the work of God. He had no family ties demanding 
his attention, and the pecuniary condition of those most nearly 
related to him was not such as to give him anxiety. As to 
wealth and honor, he spurned them. Personal ease had no 
allurements for him. If ever a human heart loved Jerusalem 
above its chief joy, loved it with all the tenderness and strength 
of a pure, deep, and filial affection, and "drew all its cares and 
studies this way," his was that heart and the Methodist Church 
was to him as a precious mother. He cared little about aught 
else. He firmly believed that Methodism, in its doctrines, was 
the simplest and best exponent of Scripture truth, that its moral 
regimen was practical Christianity, and its polity, especially its 
great itinerant system of preaching the gospel sustained by an 
efficient, impartial, and practical general superintendency, was 
the best plan yet devised for the universal diffusion of religious 
truth; and honestly and cordially believing thus, he threw him- 
self into the ranks of the brave and true-hearted who gave them- 
selves "a living sacrifice" to the noblest of causes, under the 
conviction that he had nothing too good to give to such an ob- 
ject and that a short life is not too long to "apply wholly to this 
one thing." So had he vowed in this solemn ordination, and 
that vow he kept. 

The late Rev. James Gwin, himself a resident of Tennessee 
and for many years a useful traveling preacher under Mr. Mc- 
Kendree, made the following remarks in reference to his peculiar 
qualifications as a presiding elder on frontier work: 

" Brother McKendree, having been appointed to the charge of 
the Western work, soon formed a plan to carry the gospel to 
every neighborhood. He employed as many local preachers and 
exhorters as he could to visit the uncultivated regions, and they 
went forth and the Lord went with them, and the tidings of 
salvation were soon heard in almost every settlement. In 
traveling through the barrens of Kentucky, he found a place 
where preaching was needed and sent that excellent man, 
John McGee, to it. He preached, a gracious revival followed, 
a society was raised, and a church built. As I commenced 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 99 

about this time to speak in public, he sent me to visit the new 
settlement, and I continued preaching from place to place until 
our Conference came on; then I was received into the traveling 
connection on trial. The business of Jesse Walker and myself, 
who were received at the same time, was to enlarge the work. 
. . . The work spread rapidly, for until then there was but one 
circuit in all the region about Nashville and Gallatin. Red 
River and Barren Circuits were soon formed, then Green River 
and Roaring River Circuits were added, and Brother Walker 
went on forming circuits west and north until he reached the 
Ohio River, and Brother McKendree devised a plan to carry 
the gospel west of the Ohio to the Mississippi River. And as 
Louisiana had been purchased and brought into our government, 
he sent Brothers Walker and Lewis Garrett to make a trial in 
that region, where they soon succeeded in planting the standard 
of the cross." 

Dr. Bangs ("History of Methodist Episcopal Church," Volume 
II, p. Ill) says: 

" Mr. McKendree was the life and soul of this army of itiner- 
ants. Wherever he went, both by precept and example, he 
aroused the lukewarm to diligence, confirmed those who stood 
in the faith, and alarmed the fears of careless sinners by his 
powerful appeals to their consciences . By this means many local 
preachers who had moved into the country were induced to 
forsake their secular employments and enter the ranks of the 

The district to which Mr. McKendree was appointed in 1801 
was called Kentucky District, this being the first time that 
names were given to districts. Its limits, however, as we have 
already seen, were far from being restricted to the State of 

The ensuing Conference was held at Ebenzer, in East Ten- 
nessee, beginning on October 31, 1801. Bishop Asbury was 
present, and says in his Journal: "Our brethren in Kentucky did 
not attend; they pleaded the greatness of the work of God." 
Mr. McKendree was returned to his former district. Natchez 
was now added to his district, and Tobias Gibson, of precious 
memory, was sent to that work as the only itinerant preacher 
in all that region. The next Conference was held at Strother's, 
or Station Camp, in Sumner County, Tenn., October 2, 1802, 
and again the aged but indefatigable Asbury was present, al- 
though too much afflicted to be able to preach. He says, how- 
ever: "I was able to ordain by employing Brother McKendree 

100 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

to examine those who were presented and to station the preach- 
ers." The Minutes for this year show that the work was steadily 
advancing in the West, insomuch that it was now found neces- 
sary to divide it into three districts, Holston and Cumberland 
being added to Kentucky, Mr. McKendree continuing upon the 

Bishop Asbury continuing in very infirm health and suffering 
great pain from exposure and long rides on horseback, Mr. Mc- 
Kendree accompained him on his return to the East, through 
East Tennessee. Bishop Asbury,- in his Journal, speaks most 
respectfully and gratefully of his kindness to him on this trip 
and frequently alludes to his preaching. " Brother McKendree 
made me a tent," says Bishop Asbury, in this wilderness jour- 
ney, "of his own and John Watson's blankets, and happily 
saved me from taking cold while I slept about two hours under 
my grand marquee. Brother McKendree threw his cloak over 
the limb of a tree, and he and his companion took shelter under- 
neath and slept also. I think I will never more brave the wilder- 
ness without a tent." After some time he adds: "I have been 
sick for twenty-three days; ah, the tale of woe I might relate! 
My dear McKendree had to lift me up and down from my horse 
like a helpless child. For my sickness and suffering, I conceive, 
I am indebted to sleeping uncovered in the wilderness. ... On 
Monday, November 8, I parted from my dear McKendree." 

Mr. McKendree spent this year in his usual manner. He 
attended Conference at Mount Gerizim, Harrison County, Ky v 
October 2, 1803. The work was enlarging in the West, and the 
tide of emigration so astonishingly rapid that Bishop Asbury 
found it necessary to form a new district northwest of the Ohio 
River, with William Burke as presiding elder. Mr. McKendree 
remained on the Kentucky, John Watson on the Holston, and 
Lewis Garrett was placed upon the Cumberland District. 

As this closed his fourth year upon the Kentucky District, 
let us advert to the increase of the membership which had oc- 
curred within the bounds of his original district. The General 
Minutes show that in 1800 there were only 1,941 whites and 116 
colored. In 1804 there were 11,141 whites and 734 colored. 
Instead of one district there were four; instead of 11 traveling 
preachers, they now numbered 45. So wonderfully had the 
work extended and the membership multiplied, that we are 
constrained to say: "What hath God wrought!" Our McKen- 
dree had contributed in a large degree to this unparalleled sue- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 101 

cess, and, with his noble colleagues, deserves to be held forever 
in grateful remembrance by the Church. 

On May 7, 1804, the fourth regular General Conference began 
in Baltimore, and closed the twenty-third. Bishops Coke, 
Asbury, and Whatcoat were present, and, of course, presided. 
One hundred and seven preachers took their seats as entitled to 
membership. 1 William Burke, Thomas Milligan, and John 
Watson were from the Western Conference. It seems that Mr. 
McKendree had intended to go to this Conference, as every 
preacher who had traveled four years had a right to do; and 
that he received money to pay his expenses to it; but from 
some cause, probably because he thought it more important to 
stay and attend to his charge, or probably because he pre- 
ferred to assist Mr. Burke, he declined going, and handed the 
money over to the latter, adding something from his own scanty 

It is impossible to estimate properly the importance of the 
service which this faithful and wise servant of Jesus Christ 
rendered to the cause of religion and of Methodism without 
considering the peculiar state of things in the West about this 
period. The revival, which began in 1799 and spread like a 
mighty inundation during several years until it extended over 
nearly all the populated sections of the West and Southwest 
and aroused the whole Methodist family in Europe and America 
to new and more vigorous efforts, seemed to have so excited the 
minds of many persons upon the subject of religion as to offer an 
occasion for the operation of seceders, fanatics, and impostors. 
Not only was it necessary to defend the Church against the 
attacks of some of the old traveling preachers who sought to 
revolutionize it by openly advocating in the West Mr. O'Kelly's 
notions of Church government, to sustain our doctrines against 
Calvinism and its Antinomian sequences, and the ordinances in 

l As Mr. McKendree was not present at this General Conference, its acts 
are not necessarily connected with his biography; yet it may net be out of 
place to say that the principal business of the session was a careful revision 
of the whole book of Discipline; that it was taken up seriatim, and every 
chapter and section calmly and critically reviewed, and passed by an al- 
most unanimous vote. It was the general impression among the oldest and 
most influential members of the body that the General Conference ought 
to be constituted on the plan of an equalized representation, according to 
a proper ratio, with delegated powers. Indeed, it seems this was the pre- 
vailing sentiment; but, inasmuch as it had not been expected by all the 
Annual Conferences that this change would now be made and as no plan 
had been matured or was presented for this purpose, nothing decisive was 
done in 1804, leaving to the ensuing General Conference to arrange it. 

102 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

opposition especially to the popular declamation on the subject 
of baptism, but it was equally necessary to guard against the 
excesses which too frequently accompanied this glorious revival 
of the work of God, 1 excesses which astonish and humiliate us 
who are so far removed from their transaction, but some of 
which it is even now far easier to denounce than to account for 
and which were still more difficult to prevent while the whole 
community were like a forest agitated by a tempest. Unfortu- 
nately, some of those having a high reputation for piety, and 
even some eminent ministers of the gospel, especially among the 
Presbyterians, gave the sanction of their example to such un- 
seemly bodily exercises as jerking, jumping, running, dancing, 
and barking. Many pious but mistaken persons identified these 
violent spasmodic actions with the revival itself and were ready 
to doubt the piety of a preacher who might seek to prevent 
them. Alas for our boasted philosophy when we are suddenly 
brought under the influence of novel and powerful impulses, 
especially when subjects of a mysterious and spiritual character 
engross the mind! Excitable and superstitious natures, under 
such circumstances, are often swept from the moorings of reason 
and common sense and drift out into the dangerous sea of 
fanaticism. Such persons too often become the victims of the 
cold and selfish impostor, who, under pretensions to piety and 
zeal, opens in the temple of God a kind of moral brokerage in 
order to speculate upon the errors and misfortunes of society! 
To add to the list of troubles, about this time a company of 
Shaking Quaker preachers from New York came among them 
with their new-fangled doctrines and high pretensions to spirit- 
ual impulses. Their pretended zeal and piety misled many 
persons, and among others several valuable Presbyterian min- 
isters and a number of unwary members. Mr. Rankin, who 
had been very active and useful in the great revival, abandoned 
the Presbyterian Church and soon became a leader among them. 
About this time another portion seceded from the Presbyterian 
Church, who were called by different names, such as Marshall- 
ites, Stoneites, Schismatics, etc. These affected extraordinary 
zeal, denounced Confessions of Faith, Church discipline, adopt- 
ed immersion as the exclusive mode of baptism, and were under- 
stood to have imbibed sentiments derogatory to the divinity 
of the Redeemer with other tenets which affect the essentials of 
Christianity. Here, again, Presbyterian ministers seem to have 

: The Rev. Henry Smith, in his "Recollections of an Old Itinerant," 
page 50, bears his testimony to the value of Mr. McKendree's efforts in 
these respects. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 103 

led off in these dangerous innovations. But amidst this con- 
vulsion in the religious community, the Methodists kept on the 
even tenor of their way, adhering to their excellent Discipline and 
uniformly teaching that system of doctrine which they had long 
since learned, and which was not only the popular but the use- 
ful doctrine of the revival. 1 William McKendree, although not 
distinguished like some of his associates as a revivalist in the 
popular sense of the term, yet was evidently and confessedly the 
leader and planner of their operations, the ablest defender of 
the doctrines and polity of the Church, and the chief conservator 
of its union and harmony. His counsels gave confidence, his 
presence inspired the timid with courage, and his self-sacrificing 
and consistent course exemplified and honored the character of 
Methodist itinerancy. With him as leader under God, the 
preachers and people felt certain of success. 

Justice to his fellow laborers requires it to be said that they 
were worthy of their captain. And surely with Bishops Asbury 
and Whatcoat as chief counselors and with such colleagues as 
William Burke, Learner Blackman, Jesse Walker, John Sale, 
Thomas Wilkerson, Henry Smith, Tobias Gibson, Jacob Young, 
Lewis Garrett, James Gwin, John Page, John A. Granade, 
John Watson, and others of like piety and zeal the cause of God 

ir The venerable Henry Smith narrates, in his " Recollections of an Old 
Itinerant," the following facts in connection with this subject: 

"By the recommendation of Dr. C , Mr. McNamar, a Presbyterian 

minister, and, of course, a Calvinist, went to hear our McKendree. The 
subject that day was the extent of the atonement and salvation by faith in 
Christ. Mr. McNamar was so charmed with the simple eloquence of the 
preacher and the force of his arguments that he said in himself as he went 
home: 'This is a doctrine that is calculated to do good.' It so wrought 
upon his mind that shortly afterwards, perhaps the next Sabbath, he be- 
gan upon the same heavenly theme in his own congregation, and the 
mighty power of God came down upon him and his congregation and many 
of them fell to the floor under it, the preacher among the rest. To the con- 
gregation this was strange work, but not so strange to the Methodists, 
for, thank the Lord, we kept the fire burning in the midst of surrounding 
darkness and opposition. Some of the Methodists began to talk to those 
in distress, and also sung and prayed; but some of the elders (who were 
still on their feet) said, 'If it is the Lord's work, let him do his own'; but 
they replied, 'The Lord works by means,' and persisted. Some soon 
found peace and began to rejoice. As there was some crowding among 
those who were down, one said: 'Don't tread on Mr. McNamar.' He 
heard it, and cried out: 'Yes, let them tread on me, for I deserve it. O, 
if I and my congregation had been called to judgment a few weeks ago, 
what would have become of us?' This (he adds) was the beginning of the 
revival in the eastern part of Kentucky." Pp. 63, 64. 

104 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

was in as safe hands as frail humanity often affords. And now 
that they have all passed away with not a solitary exception, 
Gibson and Blackman having fallen early and suddenly, while 
Burke, Wilkerson, and Garrett have but recently sunk into the 
grave, as the sun goes slowly down on a long summer's eve, we 
may be excused from saying, that in labors, privations, practical 
sense, profound piety, true eloquence, and wonderful success in 
their holy calling they were a noble band, and deserve to be held 
in perpetual remembrance. What if they lived poor, 1 and died 
"unhonored and unsung," their graves scattered all over the 
great valley where they toiled and fell at their posts, with few 
stones to mark their places of repose, yet their "record is on 
high," and tiieir recompense both sure and glorious. They 
trusted all to God; and will he not vindicate his own truthful- 
ness? They loved the Church dearer than their own lives, and 
their names must never be forgotten. 

1 From a memorandum book, very neatly kept in Mr. McKendree's 
handwriting, showing "moneys received from 1799 to 1804 inclusive," 
we make the following synopsis, premising that the salary of a preacher 
from 1784 to 1800 was $64 per annum, equal to 19 4s., and was raised to 
$80 at the General Conference of 1800: 

"Salary deficient four quarters 1799, on the Northern District of Vir- 
ginia, 5 15s. lid." 

Within that period he charges himself with " private gifts worth 3 6s. 
Qd." socks being valued at from 7s. Qd. to 6s. per pair; and then, out of 
the pittance of about $40 'which he received on a hard year's work, he 
"gave away to the poor, and other charitable objects," about $10 more; 
so that he subsisted that year on $30, or drew upon his own private funds 
for the remainder; and yet his cash account for that year shows that his 
actual cash expenses amounted to 15 Os. 10 %d., exclusive of traveling 
expenses, gifts, etc. This was almost double the amount he received in 
cash, clothes, etc. 

His memorandum from 1800 to October, 1801, shows that, although his 
salary was raised to $80 per annum, he only received three dollars the 
first quarter, and two dollars for the next. The whole deficiency of this 
year was 17 15s. 10d., showing that he received during his first year's 
work as presiding elder in the West about twenty dollars only, all told, 
while his expenses in traveling from Virginia to the West and for necessary 
clothing and fare must have greatly exceeded this amount. His receipts 
for the next year amounted to $43.67, making a deficiency of $36.23 for 1802, 
etc. Nor let it be forgotten that he charges himself in the above with all 
cash and clothing received as private gifts. Such was then the rule, and 
he always obeyed the law of the Church. Of course, traveling preachers 
who began to travel poor, remained poor while they itinerated. "As 
poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing all 


McKendree presides at the Western Conference, 1804 Bishop What- 
coat's death, 1806 McKendree in Illinois and Missouri Review of 
the work in the West Delegated General Conference needed A bish- 
op wanted New York plan to elect one Defeated by Virginia Con- 
ference General Conference, 1808 McKendree made bishop His 
qualifications Dr. Coke's letter. 

HAVING followed the history of the subject of this biography 
to the fall of 1804, we may pass along with the remark that on 
October 2 of this year the Western Conference again met at 
Gerizim, near Cynthiana, Ky . Bishop Asbury having been taken 
ill on his way to the West, neither he nor Bishop Whatcoat, who 
accompanied him, was able to attend the session. The failure 
of the bishops to reach the Conference and also to designate 
anyone to preside devolved upon the Conference the election of 
its President, and Mr. McKendree, having received the vote of 
the Conference, performed the duties of the office most admir- 
ably. Several preachers were admitted on trial at this Con- 
ference who subsequently attained considerable notoriety and 
most of whom are known to have been very estimable and 
highly useful men. Among them were Samuel Parker, the sweet 
singer in Israel, and a fine specimen of nature's noblemen im- 
proved by divine grace; Peter Cartwright, a fearless, rough, and 
ready man, who still lives, and has recently written his own 
biography; Miles Harper, my first colleague, a man of fine order 
of mind by nature, a revivalist, with rare gifts for declamation, 
a voice of unsurpassed melody, and of great physical capacity 
to sustain the labor of the saddle, the pulpit, and the altar, and 
who, if he had combined with all his other qualities greater self- 
command, might have stood among the foremost; James Axley, 
whose firmness verged on sternness and his candor on rudeness, 
but withal a devoted, laborious, good man, kind of heart, honest 
in his prejudices, and eccentric from the want of early advan- 
tages, and Thomas Lasley, the humble and faithful preacher 
and traveling companion of Bishop Asbury, who, with Gibson, 
Blackman, and Bowman, was a pioneer in Mississippi and 
Louisiana, whose long and useful life has but recently closed. 

This, like all the other years of his itinerant life, seems to 
have been laboriously and efficiently employed in the duties of 
his holy office. The revival was still prevailing in many sections 
of the western country, and thousands were annually being con- 

106 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

verted to God. His district occupied all his time and energies, 
and the cause of God prospered. 

On October 2, 1805, Conference convened in Scott County, 
Ky. Bishop Asbury presided, and the session was a peaceful 
and happy one. Mr. McKendree was this year transferred to 
the Cumberland District, after having been five years on the 
Kentucky District, for, although some slight changes had been 
made, yet it remained substantially the same work. And this 
seems to be a violation of the rule introduced in 1792 limiting 
a presiding elder's term of service on a district to four years. I 
cannot therefore explain it. 

The Cumberland District was not only a new field of opera- 
tions for him, but it was a much more extensive one, and em- 
braced more of the frontier work; for it included not only all the 
populated portion of Middle Tennessee, but an appointment in 
Illinois also. The increase of members reported for this year 
justifies the conclusion that the preachers within the district 
were faithful and acceptable, and we doubt not the presiding 
elder did his part, as usual, of hard service. 

The Western Conference for 1807 was held at Ebenezer 
Church, Greene County, East Tennessee, September 20, 1806, 
from which he was returned to the Cumberland District. Bish- 
op Asbury attended this Conference, and in his Journal he 
says: "Sunday, September 14, I preached at the stand in the 
woods. Brother McKendree followed. It was a season of 
feeling. . . . Saturday, September 20, Western Conference 
began, and ended on Monday. There are fourteen hundred 
added within the bounds of this Conference; fifty-five preachers 
stationed; all pleased." Again: "The brethren were in want, so 
I parted with my watch, my coat, and my shirt." Bishop 
Whatcoat 1 having died in July, 1806, Bishop Asbury preached his 
funeral sermon at this Conference as was his custom at all the 
Conferences of the year. This was a year of great labor and 
privation with Mr. McKendree, for he not only attended his 
regular appointments in a very large district, but made a 
missionary tour into Illinois and Missouri. Jesse Walker had 
been sent to Illinois and John Travis to Missouri, and both ap- 

^ichard Whatcoat was born in Gloucestershire, England, 1736; be- 
came an itinerant preacher in 1769; came to the United States in 1784; 
was ordained by Mr. Wesley previously; assisted in the ordination of Mr. 
Asbury; was elected bishop in 1800; and died in Dover, Del., July 5, 1806; 
a holy, faithful man. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 107 

pointments were attached to Mr. McKendree's District. The 
following narrative of this tour, by the Rev. James Gwin, 1 may 
be interesting to those who delight to trace the footsteps of the 
brave pioneer preachers: 

In the year 1807, Brother McKendree, A. Goddard, and myself set out 
to visit the settlements of Illinois. We crossed Ohio River, took the wil- 
derness, and traveled until night. Not being able to get to any habitation, 
we camped out. Brother McKendree made us some tea, and we lay down 
under the branches of a friendly beech and had a pleasant night's rest. 
Next morning we set out early, traveling hard, and got some distance into 
the prairie, and here we took up for the night. This was a night of trouble. 
After we had taken a morsel to eat and offered up our prayers to God, we 
lay down to rest and fell into a deep sleep. About eleven o'clock Brother 
McKendree awoke and found our horses were all gone. After some search, 
we found that they had passed over a small stream and had taken back 
the way we had come. Not knowing whether they had been stolen or had 
left of their own accord, leaving Brother McKendree at our camp, Brother 
Goddard and myself went in pursuit of them. As the night was dark, we 
got dry bark, which afforded us a tolerable light. We followed their tracks 
across the prairie and overtook them about eight o'clock next morning, 
having traveled fifteen miles on foot. The next night we reached the first 
settlement, tarried a day there, and, crossing Kaskaskia River, we reached 
Turkey Hill and lodged with an old Brother Scott. Here we met with 
Jesse Walker, who had formed a circuit and had three camp meetings ap- 
pointed for us. After resting a few days, we set out for the first camp 
meeting. In twelve miles we reached the Mississippi and, having no 
means of taking our horses across, we sent them back, crossed the river, 
and, with our baggage on our shoulders, went to the camp ground, having 
fallen in with Brother Travis on the way. About forty were converted at 
this meeting. 

Here we have a specimen of the risks and fatigues endured 
by the Methodist itinerants in the West at that day. "There 
were giants in those days." Let us pursue the narrative: 

*The following statement, appears in Bishop Asbury's Journal, relating 
to this beloved friend: 

"Wednesday, September 28, 1808. Yesterday I returned to James 
Gwin's and preached here to-day with great delight to a very feeling con- 

"Above all the persons of my acquaintance, Brother James Gwin has 
distinguished himself most friendly to my comfort. Understanding that 
I have a dependent father and sisters, he presented me with three hundred 
acres of excellent land, for which he only required me to advance an incon- 
siderable sum for the State charges, and further takes upon himself the 
trouble of opening a plantation and building a cabin for their reception. O 
that the Father of mercies may remember and reward him and his for all 
his kindness, to me!" 

108 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

From this camp meeting we returned across the river to Judge S.'s, 
who refreshed us and sent forward our baggage in a cart to Brother Gar- 
rettson's, where our next meeting was to be held, which was called the 
Three Springs. We arrived on Friday morning on the camp ground, which 
was situated in a beautiful grove surrounded by a prairie. A considerable 
congregation had collected, for the news of the other meeting had gone 
abroad and produced much excitement. Some were in favor of the work 
and others were opposed to it. A certain major had raised a " company of 
lewd fellows of the baser sort" to drive us from the ground. On Saturday, 
while I was preaching, the major and his company rode into the congrega- 
tion and halted, which produced considerable confusion and alarm. I 
stopped preaching for a moment and quite calmly invited them to be off 
with themselves, and they retired to the spring for a fresh drink of brandy. 
The major said he had heard of these Methodists before; that they always 
broke up the peace of the people wherever they went; that they preached 
against horse racing, card playing, and every other kind of amusement. 
However, they used no violence against us, but determined to camp on the 
ground and prevent us from doing harm. But at three o'clock, while 
Brother Goddard and I were singing a hymn, an awful sense of the divine 
power fell on the congregation, when a man with a terrified look ran to me 
and said: "Are you the man that keeps the roll?" I asked him what roll. 
"That roll," he replied, "that people put their names to who are going to 
heaven." I supposed he meant the class paper, and sent him to Brother 
Walker. Turning to Brother Walker, he said, " Put my name down, if you 
please," and then fell to the ground. Others started to run off and fell, 
some escaped. We were busy in getting the fallen to one place, which we 
effected about sunset, when the man who wished his name on the roll arose 
and ran off like a wild beast. Looking round upon the scene and listening 
to the sobs, groans, and cries of the penitents reminded me of a battle 
field after a heavy battle. All night the struggle went on. Victory was on 
the Lord's side; many were converted, and by sunrise next morning there 
was the shout of a King in the camp. It was Sabbath morning, and I 
thought it the most beautiful morning I had ever seen. A little after sun- 
rise, the man who had run off came back, wet with the dews of the night 
and with strong symptoms of derangement. At eleven o'clock Brother 
McKendree administered the holy sacrament; and while he was dwelling 
upon its origin, nature, and design some of the major's company were 
effected, and we had a melting time. After sacrament, Brother McKen- 
dree preached to a large congregation, all the principal men of the country 
and all in reach who could get there being present. His text was "Come, 
let us reason together," and perhaps no man ever managed the subject 
better, or with more effect. His reasoning on the atonement, the great 
plan of salvation, and the love of God was so clear and strong and was 
delivered with such pathos, that the congregation involuntarily arose to 
their feet and pressed toward him from all parts. While he was preaching, 
he very ingeniously adverted to the conduct of the major, and remarked: 
" We are Americans, and some of us have fought for our liberty and have 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 109 

come here to teach men the way to heaven." This seemed to strike the 
major, and he afterwards became friendly and has remained so ever since. 
This was a great day. The work became general, the place was awful, 
and many souls were born of God. Among the rest was our wild man. 
His history is a peculiar one. He lived in the American Bottom, had a 
fine estate, and was a professed deist. He told us that a few nights before 
we passed his house he dreamed that the day of judgment was at hand, 
and that three men had come from the East to warn the people to prepare 
for it; that so soon as he saw us he became alarmed, believing we were those 
men; and having ascertained where we were from, who we were, and where 
going, he came to the camp meeting. He became a reformed and good 

Brother G win's narrative continues: 

We went to Goshen Camp Meeting. Here we had comfortable camps 
and an arbor large enough to shelter seven hundred persons, in the form 
of an L. The stand was in an unsheltered spot between the two squares. 
We had also a small log meetinghouse, in which our first quarterly meeting 
was held. Preaching began on Friday, and was kept up regularly. The 
people having heard of the revival at the other meetings flocked out in 
great numbers, many to see the strange work. Some brought brandy and 
cards for their amusement during the meeting. On Friday and Saturday 
the word preached seemed to do little good. An awful cloud seemed to rest 
upon us. In passing the door of the preachers' tent, I saw Brother McKen- 
dree alone, bathed in tears. I stepped in, and he said to me: "Brother, we 
have been preaching for ourselves and not for the Lord. Go, brother, and 
preach Christ crucified to the people." My heart was deeply affected. 
We fell upon our knees and implored the help of God. This was about 
sunset. I preached at candle lighting. My text was: "Behold the man." 
It commenced raining shortly after I began to preach, and, as the audience 
was under shelter, I did not stop, although exposed to the rain. My heart 
was fired and my tongue loosened in an unusual manner. For a few mo- 
ments nothing but sobs and sighs were heard among the people, at length 
the whole congregation seemed suddenly smitten with the power of God. 
Many fell as in battle and were presently raised to tell of pardoning mercy 
and encourage others to seek the Lord. We continued all night in the work. 
On the next day, Sunday, 9 A.M., the Lord's Supper was administered. 
It was a memorable day, and eternity only will reveal the result. One con- 
version deserves particular notice. An Indian, of the Chickamauga tribe, 
on a hunting trip, fell in with us at our camp meeting. I will give his own 
account of his conversion. He said: "When I saw so many people, I 
thought I would stop and get some whisky; and while you were talking in 
the rain, I was standing by a sapling, and there came on me a mighty 
weight, too heavy for me to stand under. I caught the sapling, but my 
hands would not hold it, and I fell to the ground; while there, blackness 
came over me; I tried to get away, but could not until about daylight. I 
thought surely I had been drunk; but then I remembered I had nothing to 

110 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

drink, although I concluded not to go back; yet when they began to sing, 
something drew me back, and before I knew it I was among them again, 
and then the same weight came on me and the darkness; I fell to the 
ground and thought I was about to die. I tried to get up, but was too 
weak. At last a white man came and talked over me; and while he was 
talking, it got lighter and lighter, and everything looked whiter than the 
sun could make it look. The heavy load and the blackness all left me; 
I felt glad in my heart and jumped up and felt light!" 

Brother Gwin says that he saw the poor savage when he arose, 
and as he knew but few English words, he cried in ecstasy: 
"Good, good, good!" 

The narrator adds that arrangements were made to send this 
Indian to school; that he soon learned to read and write, and 
that at the last account of him he was trying to "walk in the 

"On Monday, the last day of the meeting, one hundred joined 
the Church." 

Mr. McKendree has also left a concise reference to this tour, 
in which he notices the following facts : The camp meeting they 
attended across the Mississippi River, and consequently in the 
present State of Missouri, was the first meeting of the kind ever 
held on the northwest of the Mississippi River, and that they 
walked about forty miles in getting to it. He further says: 
"Four Sabbaths excepted, I have attended popular meetings 
every week since the beginning of February, in which time I 
have rode about 2,700 miles through the wilderness to the Illi- 
nois and back, spent considerable time in the most sickly part 
of that and this country, and yet, blessed be God, my health 
and strength have been preserved." This trip occupied about 
two months and was the commencement of a glorious revival 
across the Ohio and upon both sides of the Mississippi. 

Such was the manner of life of the devoted McKendree and 
of his indefatigable and heroic associates, such their faith and 
zeal, and such the wonderful success with which God crowned 
their "labor of love." 

The ensuing Conference was held in Chillicothe, Ohio, Sep- 
tember 14, 1807. Bishop Asbury, then our only bishop in Amer- 
ica, was present, and says of it: "On Monday we opened our 
Conference in great peace and love, and continued until Fri- 
day. A delegation of seven members was chosen to the Gen- 
eral Conference. There were thirteen preachers added, and we 
found an addition of two thousand two hundred members to 
the society in these bounds; seven deacons were elected and 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 111 

ordained and ten elders; two preachers only located, sixty-five 
were stationed." 

Mr. McKendree was doubtless reappointed to the Cumber- 
land District, but as the General Conference, which changed his 
relation, came on before the Minutes were published, the name 
of his successor, James Ward, is put down as its presiding elder. 

As this year closes the labors of Mr. McKendree as pre- 
siding elder, let us briefly review the progress of the Church in 
the West since he took charge of the only district it contained 
in 1800. Then there were 1,741 members, white and colored; 
now i. e., 1808 the Western Conference numbered 16,887 
members. Then Mr. McKendree was the leader of the only 
band, a forlorn hope, cut off from the rest of the work by an 
extensive wilderness, full of warlike and cruel savages, having 
only eleven preachers. In 1808, that one district had expanded 
into five, with sixty-six preachers; and the cause of God was 
advancing and gaining firm footing throughout the vast Valley 
of the Mississippi. The Methodism planted by the heroic and 
holy pioneer preachers in this region was truly Wesleyan; no 
wild and spurious offshoot of the original stock, producing 
fanaticism and degrading its disciples, but a genuine root of 
the true vine which Paul planted, Apollos watered, which Lu- 
ther pruned, and Wesley nourished, and whose fruitful foliage 
was now rapidly spreading over England, the West Indies, and 
the great Western Continent. Its fruit was healing the chronic 
ulcers of the nations. It introduced order, social and moral, 
it subdued the vices, restrained the passions and vitiated appe- 
tites, refined the taste, enlightened the minds of men, and 
spread peace and happiness through society. It instituted an 
unequaled system of propagandism, the very plan introduced 
by the great Master himself, and called forth the moral heroism 
of martyrs in its ministers. Its doctrines were scriptural, its 
forms and ceremonies simple and significant, its spirit catholic, 
its discipline strictly evangelical, and its system of government 
subordinated to the great cardinal object of spreading scrip- 
tual holiness over all lands by an itinerant ministry. No won- 
der it succeeeded; it would have been far more wonderful if it 
had not. Every attribute of the Godhead was on its side, and 
every intercession of the world's Redeemer was virtually a 
prayer and a pledge of its triumph. The highest interests of 
humanity were involved in its efforts, and some of the purest 
and noblest of earth sacrificed their earthly all in its behalf. 

At the Western Conference, held in Chillicothe, Ohio, in 

112 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

September, 1807, to which we have already adverted, seven 
delegates were elected to represent the body in the approaching 
General Conference, five of whom attended it. They were 
William McKendree, William Burke, John Sale, Benjamin Lakin, 
and Elisha W. Bowman. The New England Conference also 
sent seven representatives, while from New York there were 
nineteen; South Carolina, eleven; Virginia, eighteen; Baltimore, 
thirty-one; and Philadelphia, thirty- two making in all one 
hundred and twenty-five, instead of one hundred and twenty- 
nine, as stated by Dr. Bangs and Dr. Lee, both of whom give 
the Western Conference eleven instead of seven. 1 

The General Conference which began May 6, 1808, 2 in 
Baltimore, was the most important session which had ever been 
held. The organization of the Church, so far as respects the 
inauguration of the episcopal form of government by the 
Christmas Conference of 1784, which was hastily convened, 
and, of course, was not a general attendance of the preachers, 
particularly as to the Conferences remote from the place of its 
session, was certainly an important event, whether we call it 
a General or Special Conference. Its acts were acquiesced in 
by the whole Church and were authoritative. But it was soon 
evident that in order to give unity, harmony, and efficiency 
to the Church something more was indispensable; for however 
unanimous in doctrines and in the outlines of Church polity 
the preachers and members appear to have been, and really 
were, and however strong their attachment to the bishops as 
general superintendents of the whole work, yet while each 
Annual Conference claimed the power to change any part of the 
Discipline, not excepting even the Articles of Faith, the basis 
of their organization, it must be evident that some other and 
stronger bond was necessary than yet existed to insure perma- 
nent union. The itinerant general superintendency feature of 
the system was, it is true, a highly conservative element, and 
the respect and regard felt by all for the character of Mr. 
Asbury was a guaranty against a disruption of the body except 
under strongly exciting circumstances. Such circumstances 

bang's "History of the Methodist Episcopal Church," Vol. II., p. 195; 
"Life and Times of the Rev. Jesse Lee," p. 431; Asbury 's Journal, Vol. 
III., p. 268; "Life of Bishop Roberts," by Dr. Elliott, pp. 156-8; "Life of 
Bishop Redding," p. 171. 

2 Dr. Bangs and Dr. Clark have both erred as to this date. See " History 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church," Vol. II., p. 195; "Life and Times of 
Bishop Hedding," p. 171. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 113 

might arise, and that good and far-seeing man, in common with 
other wise and devoted friends of the Church, felt exquisitely 
the importance of introducing the principle of representation 
into the government and by restricting the Conferences in their 
separate capacity from the exercise of a direct power over 
fundamental questions to concentrate this authority, under con- 
stitutional provisions, in the representative body. The condi- 
tion of the Church at this period was somewhat similar to that 
of the civil government of the thirteen colonies during the Rev- 
olutionary War and until the formation and adoption of the 
Federal Constitution. And as the highest principles of patroit- 
ism induced Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Jay, 
and Madison to advocate a constitutional union in the place 
of the old confederation, so, actuated with the highest sense of 
piety and duty, our Asbury, Lee, McKendree, Bruce, Burke, 
Cooper, Soule, and Garrettson united their efforts to concen- 
trate the law-making department of the Church in a General 
Conference under constitutional "limitations and restrictions." 
The conviction was so strong among the older and wiser 
members of the connection that, as we have seen, "the council" 
system was introduced with a hope that it would answer the 
ends proposed. But it failed in 1792, not less from its own in- 
trinsic imperfection than on account of the opposition it en- 
countered from Mr. 0' Kelly. In the General Conference of 
1804, the propriety of a delegated representative body was felt 
and admitted, but as the preparatory steps had not been taken 
for the immediate introduction of the principle, by common con- 
sent the plan was deferred until 1808, when all the Conferences 
could meet the question after mature deliberation. It was 
therefore understood throughout the whole Church that at this 
Conference the organization of the Church should be completed 
by some general measures which would effect a centralization 
of power in a delegated body having supreme legislative jurisdic- 
tion. Indeed, the sense of insecurity was so strongly and gener- 
ally felt in reference to the episcopacy itself, after the death of 
Bishop Whatcoat in 1806 and the failure of the health of Bishop 
Asbury, consequent upon the excessive fatigue and anxiety 
devolved upon him, that many of the preachers thought it 
advisable to call a special convention of seven delegates from 
each Conference for the exclusive object of electing another 
bishop, lest the death of Mr. Asbury before the General Con- 
ference of 1808 might endanger the stability of the Church. 
With this view, "a plan agreed upon by the New York Confer- 

114 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

ence to organize and establish a permanent superintendency 
over the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and 
recommended to the other six Conferences for their concur- 
rence," was carried round to the Conferences and laid before 
them by Bishop Asbury. This plan proposed that the forty- 
nine delegated members, or electors, should convene in Balti- 
more, July 4, 1807, "for the express purpose, and with full 
powers, to elect, organize, and establish a permanent superin- 
tendency and for no other purpose." The original document 
now lies before the writer. 

Signed by order and in behalf of the unanimous voice of the Conference. 


FRANCIS WARD, Secretary. Committee. 

Done at New York, May 22, 1806. 

Appended to this circular are the following interesting en- 
tries in the autographs of the subscribers: 

The New England Conference concur with the proposal made by the 
New York Conference for calling a delegated General Conference on July 
4, 1807, for the express purpose of strengthening the superintendency. 
Yeas, 28; nays, 15. THOMAS BRANCH, Secretary. 

The Western Conference concur with the proposal made by the, etc. 
"Unanimity." WILLIAM BURKE, Secretary. 

The South Carolina Conference concur, etc. Two members only 
excepted. . LEWIS MYERS, Secretary. 

VIRGINIA CONFERENCE, NEWBERN, February 6, 1807. The New York 
Conference having written a circular letter to the several Annual Confer- 
ences proposing a plan to strengthen the superintendency, the letter was 
read in this Conference yesterday, and a vote taken, "Shall we consider 
the subject? " Only seven were in favor of the motion. The subject was 
called up again to-day, and a second vote was taken; fourteen were in favor 
of it. It is therefore the decision of Conference not to be concerned in it. 
Signed in and by order of the Conference. ' 





There were 34 members at the Conference; 33 were present when the 
vote was taken, and the absent member said he would have voted for it if 
he had been in the room. THOMASS L. DOUGLAS, Secretary. 

There is also an original paper, under date of Newbern, 
N. C., February 8, 1807, expressing the dissent of Philip Bruce, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 115 

Stith Mead, Thomas L. Douglass, and John Buxton to the 
action of the Virginia Conference in refusing to take into con- 
sideration the circular of the New York Conference. "It ap- 
pearing to us both injudicious and impolitic to refuse hearing a 
debate on anything which so nearly concerns the general wel- 
fare and union of our Church, more especially as we must from 
principle avow the propriety of equal representation; secondly, 
respecting their refusing to hear the letters from our brethren 
composing the six preceding Conferences to ours in answer to 
Dr. Coke," etc. They, however, attribute the course pursued 
by the Conference "to the state of our Conference, being com- 
posed of more than one-third young men, and the vehement 
outcries of 'Rebellion/ 'Worse than Burr/ 'Of Forswearing,' 
Dividing the connection!' etc., raised by two of our elder 
brethren J. Lee and D. Hall which so alarmed the young 
men that they were afraid to hear or see the letters or submit 
to the debate upon the address from New York." 

Mr. Lee's resistance of this measure has been justified by the 
results of the General Conference ensuing and vindicated by 
his able biographer. It was an extraordinary measure to meet 
a contingency which did not occur before the meeting of the 
body which had the legal control of the question and might have 
been a dangerous precedent. And it may well be feared that if 
this evident necessity for General Conference action had been 
anticipated in 1807, the attempt to introduce the representative 
principle in 1808 and to impose a constitutional check both upon 
the Annual and General Conferences might not have been suc- 
cessful, inasmuch as their necessity would not have been so 
imperatively felt. So that, however grieved Mr. Asbury may 
have been at the defeat of this attempt to call a General Con- 
ference, yet, as it resulted in rendering evident the indispen- 
sableness of a delegated General Conference to the permanency, 
unity, and efficiency of the Church and thus contributed to 
this most important result, neither he nor others could regret 
the failure. I confess, however, I have not found any evidence 
that Bishop Asbury felt very great solicitude about the matter, 
certainly there is none in the remarks made in his Journal about 
the Virginia Conference, for there is not the remotest intimation 
that he "labored" at all for that "dangerous plan," much less 
that he "labored hard" for it. 

The failure of the New York plan by the nonconcurrence of 
the Virginia Conference did not deter the former Conference 
from sending a memorial to the General Conference in favor 

116 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of organizing a delegated body to meet at regular periods. The 
vast extent of the work, the number of elders, each of whom 
was entitled to a seat, the loss of time, the great expense of all 
who should attend, the preponderance which the central Con- 
ferences had always enjoyed and would always have in the 
number of members, besides the inutility of so large a body for 
legislative purposes, and, finally, the necessity for it as a bond of 
union to the several Annual Conferences were clearly and 
strongly set forth. It was the great question of the Conference, 
and upon its fate rested the prosperity, if not the future exist- 
ence, of the Church. 

The memorial was referred to a committee of fourteen, two 
from each Conference. William McKendree and William Burke 
were chosen from the Western Conference. On Monday, the 
16th, the committee reported in favor of the measure, sub- 
mitting a plan for a delegated General Conference substantially 
the same as that now found in the third section of the Disci- 
pline. Dr. Elliott, in his "Life of Bishop Roberts," says: "On 
the first meeting of the committee, they conversed largely on 
the provisions which their report to the Conference should con- 
tain. After considerable deliberation, they agreed to appoint 
a subcommittee of three to draft a report to be submitted to 
Conference, subject, however, to such additions or modifications 
as a future meeting of the whole committee might see fit to 
make. The subcommittee consisted of Ezekiel Cooper, Joshua 
Soule, and Philip Bruce. When the subcommittee met, it was 
agreed, after a full exchange of sentiments, that each should 
draw up a separate paper comprising the necessary restrictions 
or regulations in the best way he could, and that each should 
present his form in writing, and they would then adopt the one 
deemed best, with such amendments as might be agreed upon. 
When the subcommittee met to examine their plans, Mr. Coop- 
er had his regularly drawn up, Mr. Soule also had one, but Mr. 
Bruce had nothing committed to writing. On comparing the 
two papers, Mr. Bruce fell in with the main points of the one 
brought forward by Mr. Soule. Mr. Cooper pleaded for his own 
with his usual ability, but he finally agreed to Mr. Soule's 
plan, with some slight additions or amendments suggested by 
the others. At the next meeting of the whole committee, al- 
though the plans of Messrs. Cooper and Soule were both before 
them, Mr. Soule's was adopted by all the members, with some 
slight modifications." 

Suffice it to say, that when the report came before the Con- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 117 

ference, a long and animated debate ensued. Some were in 
favor of representation by seniority, and others of the election 
of delegates. The report favored the elective principle, and the 
remote Conferences were generally in favor of it, but the central 
ones, such as Baltimore and Philadelphia, were opposed to it. 
It was rejected on the 18th, by 57 yeas, 65 nays. 1 Very great 
dissatisfaction was manifested at this decision, and the New 
England and Western members, having previously agreed to 
leave upon the failure of this effort, the New England delegates 
arose and asked leave to retire and return to their work, as they 
could be of no further use in the Conference, giving assurance, 
at the same time, that they would not create any difficulty in 
the Church, but peaceably go home and attend to the duties of 
their work. William Burke arose and made the same request 
for the Western Conference delegates. Six members from New 
England and two from the West retired in a body and began to 
make preparations for their journey. But Bishop Asbury and 
Mr. McKendree sought an interview with them and others 
sympathizing with them, and, aided by the wise and prudent 
Elijah Hedding, prevailed on them to wait a day and see if a 
reconsideration of the question could not be effected leading to 
a different result. They did remain; the report was again taken 
up. The delegates from the central Conferences, two of which 
constituted almost a majority of the whole body, saw that it 
was necessary to adopt it to save the integrity of the Church; 

. Cooper's plan differed from Mr. Soule's on the third Article, by 
saying, "They shall not do away episcopacy, nor reduce our ministry to a 
Presbyterial parity," while Mr. Soule's was as it now stands in the Disci- 
pline. The committee of fourteen approved the latter and reported it to 
the Conference. The prominent advocates of Mr. Cooper's plan in the 
Conference were himself and John Wilson. Mr. Lee is understood to have 
opposed the whole thing upon the plea of "Conference rights," leading to 
"electioneering," etc., and to have defeated it temporarily by advocating 
seniority in preference to the election of delegates. When the subject was 
reconsidered, Mr. Soule, seconded by George Pickering, moved to amend 
the first Article by inserting "seniority or choice," thus leaving the mode of 
obtaining the delegate to the discretion of the Conferences. Mr. Lee was 
silent after this, and it passed by a large majority. The biographer of Mr. 
Lee, to whom the writer feels deeply indebted for his able and reliable 
work, claims that the third Restrictive Article originated with Mr. Lee. 
This error may be readily accounted for by the fact that Mr. Lee moved 
its adoption in Conference as Mr. Soule had reported it. But Bishop 
Soule undoubtedly originated it. The above explanations are from the lips 
of Bishop Soule himself. 

118 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

and after mature deliberation and considerable discussion, a 
compromise was agreed upon between Messrs. Soule and 
Cooper, representing the elective and seniority parties, by giv- 
ing to the Annual Conferences, respectively, the right of select- 
ing their delegates in either way, and then the general plan of 
a delegated Conference was adopted almost unanimously. And 
it is a striking illustration of the undue importance sometimes 
given to a mere abstraction, to an impracticable principle, that no 
Annual Conference has ever sent a delgegate to any General Con- 
ference since then upon the ground of seniority, and yet this was 
the point upon which the whole question mainly hinged at last. 

"Thus," says Dr. Elliott, "to a very considerable extent we 
owe to Bishop Soule the restrictive regulations, or rather the 
Constitution of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which exhibits 
a degree of wisdom and prudent foresight that characterizes 
men of the first mental powers. In fact, those who know Bishop 
Soule would expect from him the wise deliberation necessary to 
produce such a measure as the constitutional restrictions of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church." 1 

Thus was thisgreat measureconsummated and theharmony and 
unity of the Church secured, in so far as written constitutions 
and compacts can insure unity in civil or ecclesiastical bodies. 

The very infirm state of Bishop Asbury's health, together 
with the absence of Dr. Coke and the death of Bishop Whatcoat, 
created a strong desire to "strengthen the episcopacy," by the 
election of one or more superintendents. And after a motion 
had been made to elect the presiding elders by the Conferences, 
instead of their being appointed by the bishop, and another to 
elect seven bishops, one to each Conference, and still another to 
elect two, and they had all failed by a strong vote, it was finally 
moved, and carried almost unanimously, to elect and conse- 
crate one. On the same day i. e., May 12, 1808 the Confer- 
ence proceeded to vote by ballot, and it was found that out 
of one hundred and twenty-eight members present, William 
McKendree had received ninety-five votes and was therefore 
declared elected; and on May 18 2 he was consecrated in Light 
Street Church by Bishop Asbury, assisted by the Rev. Messrs. 
Freeborn Garrettson, Philip Bruce, Jesse Lee, and Thomas 

The following is a copy of his Certificate of Ordination: 

l "Life of Bishop Roberts," p. 159. 

2Dr. Bangs, Dr. Lee, Dr. Clark, Benjamin St. James Fry, etc., all mis- 
take the day of his ordination. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 119 

Know all men by these presents, that I, Francis Asbury, originally of 
Great Britian, in great Barr Staffordshire, the Parish of Handsworth, for 
some years a member of the Methodist Society, and a local preacher; after- 
wards a member of the British Conference. In the year 1771 I came a 
missionary to the British Provinces in America: afterwards General 
Assistant, and I had the oversight of the Methodist Societies. On the 
27th day of December, 1784, at a General Conference in Baltimore, after 
being ordained Deacon and Elder, I was elected to the office of Superintend- 
ent or Bishop, by the unanimous voice of the General Conference held in 
Baltimore, December 24, 1784. The following persons assisted in my 
ordination, viz., Thomas Coke, Doctor of Civil Law of Jesus College in the 
University of Oxford, Presbyter of the Church of England, Superintendent 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America, by the ordination and 
appointment of Mr. John Wesley, and other clergymen of the Church of 
England; also assisted in the ordination, William Otterbein, Minister of 
the German Presbyterian Church, and Richard Whatcoat with Thomas 
Vasey, regularly ordained Elders by John Wesley: these four solemnly set 
me apart for a Superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 
United States of America. AND now. be it known to all whom it may 
concern, that WILLIAM MCKENDREE was ordained Deacon in the year 
1790, and I did set him apart to the office of an Elder by my hands, In 
December of the year 1791. I have, this eighteenth day of May, one 
thousand eight hundred and eight, set apart William McKendree, 1 by the 
laying on of hands and prayer, assisted by Freeborn Garrettson, Philip 
Bruce, Jesse Lee, and Thomas Ware, all of them Elders in the Church; to 
the office and work of a Superintendent or Bishop of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, (after he had been elected by a majority i. e., 95 out of 128 
members of General Conference,) as a man whom we judge well qualified 
for the office of a Superintendent, and one of the Bishops of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, and fit to preside over and Feed the Flock of Christ, 
so long as his spirit, practice and doctrine is such as becometh the Gospel 
of Christ, and he shall submit to the Discipline and order of the said 
Methodist Episcopal Church in America. 

And I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this eighteenth day of May, in 
the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eight. 



Done in Light Street Church, Baltimore, State of Maryland. 

The historian of the Church, the venerable Dr. Bangs, to 
whom the whole Methodist family in America is indebted for 
his able and impartial labors in this department, as well as for 

l Born in King William County, State of Virginia, July, 6, 1757. 

120 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

his valuable services in promoting the general interests of the 
Church in other respects, thus speaks of this election: 

Mr. McKendree had been commended to the attention and approbation 
of the Conference by a long, laborious, and faithful service in the itinerant 
field of labor, during which time God had set his seal to his ministry in a 
most remarkable manner. ... It was from this field of labor (the West) 
that Mr. McKendree came to the General Conference in 1808. And such 
was the confidence inspired in his wisdom and integrity, in his zeal and 
prudence in promoting the cause of God, and such a halo of glory seemed 
to surround his character, that the finger of Providence appeared to point 
to him as the most suitable person to fill the office of a superintendent." 1 

When Mr. McKendree entered the Conference he had been so 
long and so far from the central part of the Church that his old 
friends were not prepared to appreciate the improvement he had 
made, while to the younger members of the body he was almost 
unknown even by name; so that none but his recent colleagues 
and Bishop Asbury were aware of his powers as an orator and a 
divine, powers which had been matured by self-denial, close 
study, and the constant practice of earnest, prayerful, evangeli- 
cal sermonizing amidst the hardships and dangers of a hardy 
pioneer life. But having been appointed to preach at the Light 
Street Church on the Sabbath before the Conference began, he 
tremblingly complied. Dr. Bangs thus describes the speaker's 
manner, the occasion, and the result: 

The house was crowded with strangers in every part, above and below, 
eager to hear the stranger; and among others, most of the members of the 
General Conference were present, besides a number of colored people who 
occupied a second gallery in the front end of the church. Mr. McKendree 
entered the pulpit at the hour for commencing the services, clothed in very 
coarse and homely garments, which he had worn in the woods of the West, 
and, after singing, he kneeled in prayer. As was often the case with him, 
when he commenced his prayer he seemed to falter in his speech, clipping 
some of his words at the end, and occasionally hanging upon a syllable, as 
if it were difficult for him to pronounce the word. I looked at him not 
without some feeling of distrust, thinking to myself: "I wonder what awk- 
ward backwoodsman they have put in the pulpit this morning to disgrace 
us with his mawkish and uncouth phraseology? " The feeling of distrust 
did not forsake me until some minutes after he had announced his text, 
which contained the following words: " For the hurt of the daughter of my 
people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is 
there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there? why then is not the 
health of the daughter of my people recovered? " (Jer. viii. 21, 22.) His 
introduction appeared tame, his sentences broken and disjointed, and his 

'Bangs's "History of the Methodist Episcopal Church," Vol. II, pp. 236-238. 

Life and Times of Bishop' McKendree 121 

elocution very defective. He at length introduced his main subject, which 
was to show the spiritual disease of the Jewish Church and of the human 
family generally; and then he entered upon his second proposition, which 
was to analyze the feelings which such a state of things awakened in the 
souls of God's faithful ambassadors; but when he came to speak of the 
blessed effects upon the heart of the balm which God had prepared for the 
healing of the nations, he seemed to enter fully into the element in which 
his soul delighted to move and have its being, and he soon carried the 
whole congregation away with him into the regions of experimental reli- 

Remarking upon the objections which some would make to the expres- 
sion of the feelings realized by a person fully restored to health by an ap- 
plication of the "sovereign balm for every wound," he referred to the 
shouts of applause so often heard upon our national jubilee, in commem- 
oration of our emancipation from political thraldom, and then said: "How 
much more cause has an immortal soul to rejoice and give glory to God 
for its spiritual deliverance from the bondage of sin!" This was spoken 
with a soul overflowing with the most hallowed and exalted feelings and 
with an emphasis that was like the sudden bursting of a cloud surcharged 
with water. The congregation was instantly overwhelmed with a shower 
of divine grace from the upper world. At first, sudden shrieks, as of per- 
sons in distress, were heard in different parts of the house, then shouts of 
praise, and in every direction sobs and groans. The eyes of the people 
overflowed with tears, while many were prostrated upon the floor or lay 
helpless on the seats. A very large, athletic-looking preacher, sitting by 
my side, suddenly fell upon his seat, as if pierced by a bullet, and I felt my 
heart melting under emotions which I could not resist. 

After this sudden shower, the clouds were dispersed, and the Sun of 
righteousness shone out most serenely and delightfully, producing upon 
all a present consciousness of the divine approbation; and when the preach- 
er descended from the pulpit, all were filled with admiration of his talents, 
and were ready to "magnify the grace of God in him," as a chosen messen- 
ger of good tidings to the lost, saying in their hearts: "This is the man 
whom God delights to honor." 

Bishop Asbury, who was present, was heard to say that the 
sermon would make him a bishop, and his prophecy was verified 
on May 12, for upon that day he was elected, it being the same 
day upon which the resolution passed to elect one. The majority 
by which he was elected was the largest any bishop has ever 
received, except Bishop Asbury. He was the first native Ameri- 
can elected to that office in the Methodist Church, and was 
fifty-one years of age. 

However inexpedient it may appear for a Church to elect a 
man to an office so important upon an impulse, apparently so 
sudden, yet in the present case the selection was wise. With the 
exception of Mr. Asbury no preacher in the connection com- 

122 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

bined so many qualifications for the office. His piety was deep 
and uniform; he was single-hearted, magnanimous, generous, 
and of most refined and exquisite sensibility. With the disci- 
pline and government of the Church he was thoroughly ac- 
quainted; probably more familiar with ecclesiastical law than 
any of his contemporaries. As a preacher, he was inferior to 
none in the clear comprehension and able advocacy of doctrines, 
in lucid and natural description of religious emotions, and in 
close and searching application of Christian ethics to their 
practical developments in the daily walks of life, while in the 
power and effectiveness of his ministrations he stood as a prince 
among his brethren. Nor was there any rudeness in his man- 
ners. He had enjoyed the benefit of highly cultivated society 
in the Old Dominion, was acquainted with the courtesies of 
social life, and, without sacrificing the simplicity of his charac- 
ter, there was something in his manners which won the esteem 
of all with whom he came in contact and impressed them with 
the conviction that while he was a true gentleman, he was also 
a true and noble specimen of a Christian minister. His fine 
personal appearance about six feet high, exquisitely propor- 
tioned his beaming, prominent, mild dark eyes, black hair, 
delicate, white skin, and noble Grecian contour of face and fore- 
head were remarkably prepossessing. His voice was clear, soft, 
and highly musical; and when, in his happiest moments in the 
pulpit, I have looked into his face, all radiant with intellect and 
smiling in every feature with the reflected piety and benignity 
of his full and happy soul, and listened to the accents of 
that most lutelike and persuasive voice, I have thought that I 
never heard such a voice or so felt the charm of truth and the 
attractions of piety. The whole man seemed to speak. And 
then there were associated with the words he uttered his long, 
self-sacrificing career, his unsuspected purity of life, his unmur- 
muring submission to hardships for the purpose of preaching 
Christ, and his daily exemplification of the power and loveliness 
of pure religion. Indeed, two thoughts seemed to have en- 
grossed the man's nature. Other preachers occasionally seem 
to speak and act as if they have other important interests in 
this world apart from religion, but he seemed to have always in 
view only two great thoughts: Christ and the Church. To 
glorify God in the salvation of men and build up the Church 
were all he cared much about. Everything else seemed to him 
too trivial to excite his heart or engage his energies. Truly 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 123 

might he have said: "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me 

Such was the man called by the voice of the Church to the 
episcopal office. How this unexpected honor affected him, we 
may conceive when we learn from the Rev. L. Garrett that upon 
his election at the late Western Conference to preside in the ab- 
sence of the bishop, he wept like a child, and would fain have de- 
clined the distinction. Bishop Asbury, too, alludes to the dejec- 
tion of "dear Brother McKendree" on account of his election 
to the episcopal office. His Diary is silent here. He was like 
one stricken by a bolt from the sky and was too much paralyzed 
with the unexpected event to sit down calmly and chronicle his 
own election. Great questions of duty, high and holy thoughts, 
of love to God, his Church, and the salvation of his fellow men 
excluded all other considerations; and until these solemn ques- 
tions were settled, and he had fully given himself to the duties of 
his new and holy office, his pen refused to record his daily his- 
tory. And even after he had entered upon his work and resumed 
his Diary, not one allusion did he make to this solemn event 
of that Conference until some time afterwards. 1 He had wholly 
given himself to God in obedience to the voice of the Church 
and, with characteristic modesty, slips out of the city as soon 
as possible and begins, or rather renews, his career of travel, 
toil, and suffering never to end until "the weary wheels of life 
at last stand still." If he had sought the office, he would have 
been unworthy of it. But having neither sought nor expected 
it, he submitted "to be servant of all," and, with as little parade 
as possible, went about his Master's work. 

Dr. Coke, so soon as he heard of the election of Mr. McKen- 
dree, wrote him the following congratulatory letter. For the 
first time he was not present at the General Conference, nor 
ever afterwards visited the United States, the election of Mr. 
McKendree superseding the necessity of his services here, 

: The following extracts from his Journal, of a later date, show his 
feelings at this period: 

"At this General Conference my brethren saw proper to enlarge my 
sphere of action, and this at a time of life when, in my opinion, if any- 
thing, it ought to be diminished. This necessarily increased my labors, 
multiplied my cares, and fixed me in a position to have more sorrow. At 
times I felt resolved not to submit, but when it came to the point, I was 
afraid to refuse; I dare not deny. And while still deeply conscious that 
I did not possess qualifications adequate to the important station, yet, 
confident of support from my brethren and relying on divine aid, I reluc- 
tantly and tremblingly submitted." 

124 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

while his time was fully occupied at home. And, although there 
is reason for thinking he might have preferred to make America 
his home, yet he cordially greets the brother who takes his place 
and ingenuously bears his testimony to his fitness for the office: 

TRENBY, SOUTH WALES, October, 5, 1808. 

To Bishop McKendree: I write to you, my very dear brother and friend, 
not to congratulate you on your election to the office of a bishop, for I 
believe you regard not office or honor any farther than you may serve God 
thereby, but to express my regard for you, and the pleasure I feel, notwith- 
standing what I have written above at your being united to my old and 
venerable brother, Asbury, in the great work in which he is engaged. I 
am persuaded God has chosen you to help my dear brother, and that you 
will go with him in perfect union in blessing the American Continent under 
divine grace. 

You are mild; you are moderately and properly reserved, and do not 
aim at an overbearing exercise of power. I have not had a large acquaint- 
ance with you, but your person and your voice are fresh to me, as if you 
were now with me in the same room, and I greatly mistake if I do not 
taste your spirit. Go on, brother, walking with God and united to him. 
Your field of action is great. You have, perhaps, ten thousand pulpits 
open to you. But the grand point, which must be engraven continually 
on your forehead as it were, and on your heart, is the harmony and union 
of the Methodist connection in America. God bless you! My dearest 
wife joins me in love to you. Pray for us. 

I am, very dear brother and friend, yours affectionately and faithfully, 


P. S. Please write to me. 

Bishop Asbury, in his Journal, Vol. Ill, p. 280, alludes to the 
"electing of dear Brother McKendree assistant bishop," and 
says: "The burden is now borne by two pair of shoulders in- 
stead of one; the care is cast upon two hearts and heads." 
Most willingly did he divide the honors of the episcopacy with 
his colleague the labor and care were worrying him to death. 


1808 an era in Methodism Bishop McKendree's first tour and first Con- 
ference at Liberty Hill Action on slavery The South Carolina Con- 
ference First Mission to slaves Two Virginia Conferences Phil- 
adephia and New York Conferences Steamboat excitement New 
England Conference Camp meetings at Pike Run, Zanesville, and 
Collins's Camp Grounds Western Conference at Cincinnati, Sep- 
tember 30, 1809 Extracts from his Journal Methodists taxed for 
benefit of Congregationalists in Connecticut His presidency Dr. 
Coke His overture to Bishop White in 1791 explained and vindicated 
His proposal to divide the work with Bishop Asbury His death and 

THE General Conference of 1808 gave very great satisfaction 
to the members and friends of the Church. It completed the 
work begun in 1784, by placing the Articles of Religion, the 
General Rules, and the Itinerant Episcopal Form of Administra- 
tion, as well as the rights of preachers and members, beyond 
the control of the Annual and General Conferences, except 
under certain "limitations and restrictions/' and reserving the 
Articles of Religion from their control forever. This act, giving 
constitutional permanency to the fundamental principles of 
Methodism, was crowned by the substitution of a delegated 
representative body in the place of mass meetings of the elders. 
And then the election and consecration of a man so universally 
respected and beloved as McKendree to be associated with 
Bishop Asbury gave great confidence in the stability and har- 
mony of the Church in future. It was an era in American 
Methodism. The Church had now placed herself in a position 
of internal peace as to any immediate cause of dissension and of 
external union and strength which quieted the fears of many 
an anxious heart and called forth a general expression of grati- 
tude to God from all her borders. The members of the Con- 
ference, having dispatched their business with remarkable 
unanimity and affection, returned to their respective fields with 
fresh zeal and courage, having nobly done their duty to God and 
the Church; and the whole connection seemed to enter upon 
the work with renewed vigor. 

Immediately upon the'close of^the General Conference, Bish- 
op Asbury, 'with Henry\Boehm tt as his traveling companion, 
started through Maryland^Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Ken- 
tuckyjto the first Conference for^the year, to be held near 

126 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Nashville, Term.; while Bishop McKendree went through 
Western Virginia and East Tennessee, West Tennessee, crossed 
Ohio River, passed through a portion of Illinois, and, crossing 
the Mississippi River above its junction with the Missouri, 
entered the State of Missouri and joined his old friend, Jesse 
Walker, in holding a camp meeting, beginning on July 28, 1808, 
and, pushing still farther west, crossing the Missouri River one 
hundred miles above its mouth, they held another camp meet- 
ing at Big Spring on August 12. 

His account of a part of this journey is as follows: 

' ' Saturday, July 28, Sunday, July 24, Monday, July 25, 1 808. 
Camp meeting in Illinois Circuit, Indiana Territory. On Tuesday 
morning last we left Kentucky, with four days' provisions for man 
and beast, crossed the Ohio River, and entered the wilderness. 
We were six in company J. Ward, T. Lasley, Z. Maddox, M. 
Shelby, and J. White. Lying out was no hardship, but the water 
was extremely bad and the flies intolerable. Some had attempted 
to go through the prairies, but had turned back and advised us 
not to try it, but we resolved to go, trusting the Lord. On the 
third day the flies afflicted us sorely, when a kind Providence 
sent a strong breeze and blew them all away. After twelve 
hours a shower of rain succeeded and blessed man and beast 
with water to drink. 

"On Friday, a little after dark, we got to Brother Scott's 
in the settlement. The old people were gone to the camp 
meeting, about fifteen miles off, but the children received and 
treated us kindly. On Saturday morning, one of the most affect- 
ing scenes I ever witnessesd occurred. As we drew near to the 
encampment, about thirty of the neighbors fell in with us. We 
rode two deep, and a number of excellent singers went in front. 
We were all glad, and as we moved, they sang delightfully, 'with 
the Spirit, and with the understanding.' And as we approached, 
the congregation met us with open arms and welcomed us in the 
name of the Lord. The Lord was in our midst, and it was like 
sitting in a heavenly place." Many were converted at this 

"Saturday, July SO, including Monday, August 1. Camp 
meeting in Missouri Circuit. This is a frontier settlement, lying 
in the fork of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, where, until 
lately, the Methodists were unknown, it being under the Span- 
ish and papal governments until transferred to us by the French. 
Last year we formed a circuit here, and the prospect of a gra- 
cious reformation was truly pleasing, until a preacher of the 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 127 

Baptist order and another of those calling themselves Christians 
came among the people and stirred up such strife that the ref- 
ormation seemed to be at a stand. But the Lord manifested 
himself at this meeting to their overthrow and the reviving of 
the work of grace." 

" Sunday, August 7. From the above camp meeting we crossed 
the Missouri and held a meeting near a French village; had 
a refreshing time; several were converted, and the meeting 
lasted till night. This place became the beginning of a circuit 
on this side of the river. 

"I continued down the river and crossed the Mississippi at 
St. Louis, and so upon the other side to Goshen. Here we had 
a solemn time. The people were dying of flux: seven open 
graves in the church yard; one interred after we assembled." 

"Friday August 12, 14- Camp meeting at the Big Spring. 
The foundation of a good and great revival was laid at a camp 
meeting when we visited here last year. The people received us 
as angels of God, and the Lord blessed us with many conversions. 
On Monday, as the sun rose, I preached, and then started for 
Kentucky. An Indian, who got converted when I was here 
last year and has taken up with the white people and gone to 
school, stood at a distance and looked on until he could refrain 
no longer; then rushed through the crowd, caught me around the 
neck, and cried aloud, saying: 'I see your face no more.' We 
rode forty-five miles, lodged in the wilderness, and rested in 

His tent at the camp meeting up the Missouri was made by 
sewing the preachers' saddle blankets together and spreading 
them over a pole, supported by forks placed in the ground like 
soldiers' tents. One end of the tent was closed with green 
boughs, the other was left open, and in front of it a fire was 
made. His food was bread and flesh broiled on sticks by the 
fire. Returning through the territories from the Big Spring 
Camp Meeting, and lying out in the forests two nights, he re- 
crossed the Ohio River, attended a camp meeting in Kentucky 
and another at Fountain Head, Tenn., on August 26, near the 
house of his old friend, James Gwin. Worn down with fatigue 
and exposure, he was taken sick and for more than two weeks 
was able to do but little. On September 24 he joined Bishop 
Asbury at Strother's, and, passing through Nashville, came to 
Liberty Hill, where the Western Conference began, October 1, 
1808. "Thus in four months," says Bishop Soule, "he had 
ridden on horseback fifteen hundred miles, a considerable part of 

128 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

the journey without roads, bridges, or boats, frequently swim- 
ming creeks and rivers, sleeping many nights in the woods, with 
heaven for his covering and earth for his bed." 

The first extensive frontier visit of a Methodist bishop was 
attended with happy results. Many had conceived the bishops 
to be men clothed with power dangerous to society. They had 
considered them ecclesiastical dignitaries, inaccessible to the 
people, surrounded with wealth and pomp, and ruling with 
almost absolute authority. Bishop McKendree's appearance 
and manners were well calculated to correct such views and re- 
move the prejudices formed under such misrepresentations. 
Thousands flocked to see and hear the "Methodist bishop." But 
how were they disappointed ! Instead of costly and fashionable 
costume, his dress was of the plainest mode and of common 
materials. Instead of austerity of manners and the signs of 
ecclesiastical power, they found him grave, but affable, familiar, 
and persuasive; gentle to all men, ready to participate with 
ease and sweetness of temper in the circumstances of the poor 
and afflicted, and ever intent upon diffusing happiness in every 
circle of society in which he moved. 

The Conference at Liberty Hill was held at a camp meeting, 
the preachers lodging on the encampment, while the bishops, 
in view of Bishop Asbury's feeble health, stayed at the resi- 
dence of Col. Green Hill. This gentleman was an old acquaint- 
ance of theirs, and estimable local minister, a revolutionary offi- 
cer, and a simple-hearted and devoted Christian. The writer 
knew him well; spent the first night of his itinerant life at his 
house in 1817, and can never forget the godly counsel and 
fatherly treatment he received from this venerable man during 
the first year of his ministry. He lived to bring up a large and 
highly reputable family; several of his descendants, including 
a son and one or two grandsons, became useful preachers, and 
almost the whole large circle of his posterity have realized the 
truth of God's Word, which promises the divine blessing to the 
"children's children" of pious parents. It is related of this 
excellent man that during the Revolutionary War, when North 
Carolina, his native State, was overrun by the British, the 
Provincial Assembly committed its public treasure to his hands, 
and that, by dodging and hiding from his pursuers, he succeeded 
in preserving it; and after all danger was over, restored every 
cent of it to the proper authority. And as his early life had been 
distinguished by integrity, patriotism, and piety, so his old 
age was venerable and useful. There is a moral beauty and sub- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 129 

limity in the gradual decline of a truly good and noble old man, 
who, passing away full of years, ripe in wisdom, and rich in 
grace, descends serenely and triumphantly into the grave 
amidst the regrets and veneration of society. Such was the life 
and such the death of Green Hill. The writer and Mr. Hill's 
old friend, the Rev. Turner Saunders, preached his funderal ser- 
mon on the spot where the Western Conference of 1808 was held. 

"As there was but one Conference at that time in the West, 
the traveling preachers collected here from Holston, Natchez, 
Opelousas, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, 
covering a vast field of labor, an immense theater for missionary 
enterprise. To supply this extensive and extending field of 
itinerant operations, some fifty-five preachers had been em- 
ployed the preceding year. Many of these had been toiling on 
the frontier settlements and had come hundreds of miles to 
Conference, fatigued with travel, enfeebled by affliction, ex- 
posure, and labor; bare of clothing; in money matters almost 
penniless really itinerant, houseless wanderers but they 
brought cheering intelligence of opening prospects, of religious 
revivals, and growing spiritual prosperity." 1 Bishop Asbury 
laconically says: "We have had 2,500 increase; there are seven 
districts and a call for eighty preachers." 

At this Conference Bishop McKendree began the exercise of 
his office as President of an Annual Conference. Henceforth 
the whole United States and the British Provinces in Canada 
were the theater of his labors. He at once evinced remarkable 
ability in presiding over the Conferences and in every other re- 
spect fully met the expectations of his friends. A better presi- 
dent never occupied the chair of an Annual or General Confer- 

While the writer would gladly omit all allusion to the un- 
fortunate subject of slavery in this work, if he could do so as a 
faithful biographer, it is perhaps his duty to advert to it in this 
connection, premising his remarks with this single observation: 
he recognizes Bishop McKendree's character as a legacy to the 
whole Methodist family in America, and would not willingly and 
needlessly exasperate the already too much excited feelings of 
this family by aught he might say upon this topic. He would 
infinitely prefer to be a peacemaker to being a partisan. 

The first Methodist Conference in this country was held in 
Philadelphia, June, 1773, but neither the General Rules, which, 
in connection with the Articles of Religion, constituted the 

iDr. Green, in "Biograpical Sketches," p. 112. 

130 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

basis of our society, nor any act of the first six Conferences, 
contained a word on the subject of slavery. And doubtless the 
clause which was substantially retained in these Rules so long 
was not inserted by any Conference, but was an unauthorized 
interpolation effected by the famous council in 1789. 

As early, however, as 1780, the Conference began to disscuss 
the subject, asking, "Ought not this Conference to require those 
traveling preachers who hold slaves to give promises to set 
them free?" And, in connection with a sweeping denunciation 
of slavery, the Conference "passed their disapprobation on all 
our friends who keep slaves, and advise their freedom." Here 
the matter rested without any express law upon the subject 
until the Conference which began at Ellis's preaching house, 
Virginia, April 30, 1784, and ended at Baltimore, May 28 
following, when this action took place: 

"Question 12. What shall we do with our friends that will 
buy and sell slaves? 

"Answer. If they buy with no other intention than to hold 
them as slaves, and have been previously warned, they shall be 
expelled, and permitted to sell on no consideration. 

"Ques. 13. What shall we do with our local preachers who 
will not emancipate their slaves in the States where the laws 
admit it? 

"Ans. Try those in Virginia another year and suspend the 
preachers in Maryland. Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New 

Here for the first time the law and the penalty are clearly 
laid down. Again: 

" Question 22. What shall be done with our traveling preach- 
ers that now or hereafter shall be possessed of slaves and refuse 
to manumit them where the law permits? 

"Answer. Employ them no more, making it obligatory upon 
every member of our society to emancipate his slaves, prescrib- 
ing the age at which the slave shall be free, and adding, 'No 
person holding slaves shall in future be admitted into society or 
to the Lord's Supper till he previously complies with these 
rules concerning slavery. ' ' 

Two years are given to Virginians to consider the expediency 
of compliance. Again: 

"Question 43. What shall be done with those who buy or 
sell slaves or give them away? 

"Answer. They are to be immediately expelled, unless they 
buy them on purpose to set them free." 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 131 

But at the ensuing Conference the execution of these rules 
was suspended; indeed, it is understood that Bishop Asbury, 
perceiving the harm likely to result from them, advised the 
preachers not to execute them long before the expiration of the 
year. These rules were dropped and have never reappeared in 
the Discipline. Indeed, the whole subject was dropped until 
1796; but in the meantime the General Rules were interpolated, 
as we have already stated, in 1789. The Conference in 1796 
gave authority to the Annual Conferences to adopt what course 
each might think proper within its own bounds, "respecting the 
admission of persons to official stations in the Church;" and, 
in case of future admission to official station, security was to be 
required of those who held slaves for their emancipation as the 
laws of the States and the circumstances of the case might ad- 
mit. In 1800, the rule was introduced requiring "any local 
preacher who may become an owner of a slave to emancipate 
him comformably to the laws of the State under the penalty of 
a forfeiture of his ministerial character." 

The course pursued in 1804 on this subject was less stringent 
than that of the two preceding General Conferences, and the 
General Conferences of 1808 struck out of the Discipline all that 
related to slaveholding among private members, and substituted 
the following: " The General Conference authorizes each Annual 
Conference to form their own regulations relative to buying and 
selling slaves." 

Under this law the Conference which met October 1, 1808, 
at Liberty Hill, Tenn., took up the subject and, as they were 
somewhat at a loss what to do, they requested the bishops to 
give them a written opinion upon the subject. Bishop Asbury 
presented and read a paper, suggesting caution and moderation 
and discouraging legislation upon the vexed question. When 
he finished, there was an evident indication of dissatisfaction, 
indeed, it is said the audience hissed him. The good and wise 
old gentleman replied, suiting the action to the word: "0 well! 
I can tear it up." 1 Bishop McKendree then read his opinion, 
which substantially favored the rule that was so long in exist- 
ence in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Conference 
acted in accordance with his suggestions. Now, while fidelity 
to truth requires this exposition of Bishop McKendree's views 
upon this subject at that period of his life, it is equally due to 
him and to truth to say that we have evidence that he lived to 
greatly modify if not, as the writer believes he did, change his 

'The Rev. William Burke is our authority for this incident. 

132 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

opinion upon the propriety of ecclesiastical legislation upon the 
question of slavery. 

In his "Autobiography, " p. 156, the venerable Joseph Travis, 
formerly of the South Carolina, and late of the Memphis Con- 
ference, relates the following incident in reference to the views 
of the Bishop in his later years: 

I well recollect, one day when we were alone, he [Bishop McKendree] 
smilingly turned round to me and said: "Brother Travis, what shall we do 
with this part of Holy Scripture? ' Let as many servants as are under the 
yoke, account their own masters worthy of all honor; lest the name of God 
and his doctrine be blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let 
them not despise them, because they are brethren: but rather do them 
service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. 
These things teach and exhort. If any teach otherwise, and consent not 
to sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which 
is after godliness, he is puffed up knowing nothing, but being sick of ques- 
tions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, contentions, evil speak- 
ings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and 
destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw 
thyself." 1 (1 Tim. vi. 1-7.) I perceived the design of the question, and 
plainly answered it. The good Bishop did not demur nor oppose my views 
of the text. I verily believe that had Bishop McKendree been alive at the 
division of our Church, he unhesitatingly would, with Bishop Soule, have 
adhered to the Southern side. I was intimate with Bishop McKendree, 
knew his sentiments in full in relation to Church government, as also his 
feelings for the Southern branch of the Church, and the public may rest 
satisfied that he was no Abolitionist. 

We give an extract from a letter of Bishop Asbury to the Rev. 
T. L. Douglass as it relates, in part, to this Western Conference 
and to Bishop McKendree; it is dated November 2, 1808: 
"Prospects in the West exceedingly great. If we are correct, 
3,437 increase; eighty-four preachers stationed; seven districts, 
two of them new. We have a tract of country superior to the 
thirteen United States now under the oversight of the Western 
Conference. . . . Since (General) Conference, Brother Bishop 
McKendree has traveled, I presume, eighteen hundred miles 
through New Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana Territory, to Missouri 
and Tennessee, East and West. Our Western Conference was 
held in camp order in the woods, seven days. Prospects in 
Missouri are great and good. Bishop McKendree has magni- 
fied his office and penetrated farther to the West than I have 
already. From the Western Conference we have traveled 
rapidly, we were chiefly together. We hope to strike off a thou- 

l Mr. Wesley's translation. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree] 133 

sand or twelve hundred miles before the South Carolina Con- 

The Diary of Bishop McKendree shows that in company 
with Bishop Asbury he started from Liberty Hill the day after 
the Conference rose and, passing by Dr. Tooley's, J. Winton's, 
in East Tennessee, and through Buncombe County, N. C., and 
continuing eastward, crossing the south fork of Catawba, he 
attended a camp meeting at Williamson's on November 11; 
thence turning into South Carolina, he preached at Devenport's 
meetinghouse, at Sardis, Heath's; Camden to James Rem- 
bert's, in Sumter District, where he attended another camp 
meeting, and thence went on to Charleston, where he remained 
preaching in the different Churches i. e., Cumberland and 
Bethel from November 30 to December 12. Bishop Asbury 
says that "Bishop McKendree was three days and nights on the 
Camden Camp Ground; and there was a powerful work among 
saints and sinners." 

From Charleston they went through Augusta to John Bush's, 
in Green County, Ga., and opened the South Carolina Confer- 
ence at Liberty Chapel next day i. e., December 26. This, too, 
was a camp meeting Conference, held in midwinter, closing on 
January 1, 1809. Three missionaries were appointed at this 
Conference: "One (M. P. Sturdevant) to Tombigbee, one to 
Ashley and Savannah and the country between, and one to labor 
between Santee and Cooper Rivers. . . . Here was the be- 
ginning of the missions to the slaves in South Carolina." Peo- 
ple were there in tents who had come one hundred and fifty 
miles. "Preaching and exhortations, singing and prayer with- 
out intermission on the camp ground, two or three thousand 
present, many souls converted." Increase of members in the 
bounds of the Conference, 3,088. 

From the seat of the South Carolina Conference, the Bishop 
arid Brother Boehm passed through Augusta and Camden to 
Fayetteville, N. C., crossing at Cashaway Ferry, where he 
realized the "mercy of not being thrown into the river, like 
poor Billiard Judge." 

Continuing their route and preaching at every opportunity, 
they visited Wilmington, Newbern, and Washington, and reached 
Tarboro, N. C., on the last day of January. The Virginia 
Conference began there on the next day. Bishop McKendree 
was now among his old acquaintances; preached admirably and 
ordained the elders. Bishop Asbury says there were but three 
married preachers in this large Conference. He notices the 

134 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

fact that "the blacks are kept from us because their masters are 
afraid of the influence of our principles;" and very significantly 
asks: "Would not an amelioration in the condition and treat- 
ment of slaves have produced more practical good to the poor 
Africans than any attempt at their emancipation?" Ah! the 
question of "practical good" was rarely thought of in dis- 
cussions upon this subject by those who were not familiar with 
the difficulties which really environed it. 1 

The following characteristic notice of the manner in which 
a part, at least, of this long and tiresome tour was made is given 
in Bishop Asbury's Journal: 

"We are riding in a poor thirty-dollar-chaise, in partnership, 
two bishops of us; but it must be confessed that it tallies well 
with our purses. Well, but we have great news, and we have 
great times, and each Western, Southern, and the Virginia 
Conference will have one thousand souls truly converted to 
God. Is this not an equivalent for a light purse? And are we 
not well paid for starving and toil? Yes; glory to God!" 

Truly, eighty dollars a year must have been a scanty supply 
for the purse, when every cent which clothing and traveling 
apparatus cost, besides every other outlay not really included 
in "traveling expenses," had to come out of it! But what was 
money or comfort to such men in pursuit of ends so high and 

From Tarboro, N. C., Bishop McKendree proceeded through 
deep snow to Harrisonburg, Va., calling at his father's, in 
Greenville County, Va., spending a day there and preaching 
twice on that day; thence through Petersburg and Richmond 
to Fort Republic. His Diary shows that on March 2, he opened 
the Virginia Conference at Harrisonburg, and that it closed on 
the eighth. The General Minutes show that the Virginia Con- 
ference had been appointed to meet at Tarboro, N. C., on 
February 1 ; and we have seen that a Conference was held then 
and there, which Bishop Asbury calls the Virginia Conference, 
and both of the bishops notice the fact that another Conference 
was held at Harrisonburg. Perhaps it had been previously 
agreed that for the convenience of the preachers traveling re- 
motely from Tarboro another session of the Virginia Confer- 
ence should be held at Harrisonburg. The appointments made 
at both places are published as belonging to the Virginia Con- 
ference. This is believed to have been the only instance of 

t * " 

iThis was written three years before the late war. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 135 

the kind which occurred after the election of Bishop McKen- 

The bishops went from this place to Alexandria, "through 
deep snow, which fell on March 13." Bishop McKendree 
preached on Proverbs i. 23. On March 18, to Georgetown; and 
Sabbath, March 19, he preached in Washington City twice, 
his texts being Hebrews x. 35, 36; Ezekiel xviii. 3. He preached 
in Baltimore on March 21, and next day at "The Point." His 
texts were Matthew vii. 3; 2 Corinthians xv. 58. Thence, trav- 
eling and preaching nearly every day, they went through Wil- 
mington, Del., to Philadelphia, where the Conference began on 
April 3 and closed on April 10, Bishop McKendree preaching 
six times during the session. 

. From the Philadelphia Conference they proceeded north, 
passing through Burlington, Trenton, etc., to New York, 
which they reached on May 9, and opened the Conference on 
the tenth. On May 12, Bishop McKendree preached in John 
Street Church, on 2 Corinthians v. 20; on the fourteenth, at 
Bowery, on Romans i. 16; in Brooklyn in the afternoon, on 
Romans viii. 34; and again at John Street on May 19, being the 
last day of the Conference, his text being 2 Corinthians vii. 10. 

From New York, where their "attention was strongly ex- 
cited by the steamboat, a great invention," they traveled every 
day, Sundays always excepted, from May 19, to June 14, when 
they reached Monmouth, District of Maine, the seat of the 
New England Conference. 

This trip, which occupied twenty-one days' traveling, can 
now be made in as many hours and without any serious fatigue. 
In making it, they passed through Newcastle on May 22; on 
the thirtieth, Middletown, Conn. On Sunday, June 3, Bishop 
McKendree preached his first sermon in Boston, Psalms xxxiv. 
19; the next day, in Lynn; on the eighth in Portsmouth, 2 
Timothy iii. 5. 

The New England Conference lasted five days. "Eighty- 
two preachers received appointments, forty of whom composed 
the Conference." From Monmouth Bishop McKendree came 
through Canaan, Dartmouth, Lansingburg, Albany, and 
Schenectady, to Kingsbury, where he again fell in company with 
Bishop Asbury, who had come by another route, both of them 
having preached nearly every day since they parted at the 
New England Conference. Leaving Brother Boehm to accom- 
pany Bishop Asbury, Bishop McKendree passed on through 
Auburn, Geneva, and Greensburg, to "Dr. Wheeler's, on the 

136 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

fork of Youghiogheny," where he and Bishop Asbury attended 
Pike Run Camp Meeting, at which Bishop McKendree preached 
every day. The meeting was one of great usefulness. Thence, 
again parting with Bishop Asbury, who proceeded to Pitts- 
burgh, Pa., he visited Washington and Middletown, attended a 
quarterly meeting; came to Steubenville on August 24 and to 
Zanesville, Ohio, on the twenty-ninth. On September 23, 24, he 
assisted in holding a camp meeting near Chillicothe, preaching 
each day with decided effect. On September 13, he got to 
John Collins's, of precious memory, and spent from the fifteenth 
to the eighteenth, inclusive, at a camp meeting at P. Catch's. 
The next week he assisted at Collins's Camp Meeting, and on 
September 27 reached Cincinnati. Here the Western Con- 
ference began on September 30, thus completing his first episco : 
pal tour of visitation to the Annual Conferences. 

The following extracts from the Journal of Bishop McKen- 
dree, beginning at the close of the New York Conference, May, 
1809, may be interesting to many: 

"On Wednesday, May 10, Conference met in New York. 
We had much harmony, peace, and love among the preachers; 
but business was done in the most desultory manner, owing to 
an entire abandonment of manner and a flood of words. There 
were some attempts to correct these errors in order to facilitate 
business, but they proved ineffectual. However, we had a com- 
fortable degree of the divine presence, but not many converted. 
About seven o'clock on Friday, May 19 (Bishop Asbury's 
Journal erroneously says the 15th), Conference concluded; and, 
in my opinion, the business might all have been done in six days. 

" Here I met with a very unexpected act of kindness. Brother 
Sandford, from Belleville, finding I have to travel alone, pre- 
sented me with his son Aaron, an amiable youth about seven- 
teen years of age, to travel with me, and that too at his own 

"Saturday, May 20. We left New York after breakfast, in 
company with Joseph Crawford and reached the White Plains 
in the afternoon. Here I had a full view of the ground and the 
situation of the armies where the battle was fought at this place. 

"Sunday, May 21. Preached in the meetinghouse on the 
battle ground; had a melting, comfortable time. 

"Saturday, May 27. My rides have been long. Rode 
through much rain; preached nine times to small, lonely con- 
gregations, in the course of this week; have enjoyed much peace 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 137 

of mind, but suffered some unnecessary pain on account of 
foolish reasonings. 

"Sunday, May 28. Preached twice in Middletown, Conn., 
and administered the sacrament. The first was a lifeless ser- 
mon, and, as far as I can judge, as unprofitable to others as it 
was uncomfortable to myself. The last was comfortable to me, 
and, I suppose, profitable to some. 

"Saturday, June 3. In accordance with a plan devised for 
me, I have taken a circuitous route through Old and East Hart- 
ford, Ellington, Wilbraham, Brookfield, and Worcester, to 
Waltham; but, no appointments having been made for me, I 
have had a week of affliction and disappointment, except in 
Ellington. There Dr. Steel procured me a good congregation, 
and I hope good was done. Here the Presbyterian congregations 
tax the Methodists to build their meetinghouses, seize and sell 
their property to pay the Presbyterian minister. . . . The trav- 
eling preacher on this circuit is not always exempt from these 
polite acts of Presbyterian charity. 1 

"Sunday, June 4, 1809. Yesterday evening I reached this 
place (Waltham, Mass.), and, Brother Bernis having.sent out 
and collected a congregation, I preached to them at three 

"Monday, June 5. I set out this morning with the pleasant 
expectation of meeting Bishop Asbury in Boston, fourteen 
miles distant, from which place, according to our general plan, 
I was to have the pleasure of his company to Monmouth, about 
one hundred and fifty miles. We met, but what was my dis- 
appointment when, before I was seated, the old gentleman, in 
very pleasing mood, presented me with a new plan, which di- 
rected us to different routes. Accordingly, after a few hours, 
we parted. I followed directions and moved on as I could, and 
in a day or two he came after me, on the same road, the greater 
part of the way. 

"Saturday, June 10. Brother Heath's, in Scarboro. I have 
passed through nearly all the seaport towns in my course and 
preached in Boston, Lynn, and Portsmouth this week. There 
is a beautiful prospect of religion in Portsmouth, the seat of 
government for New Hampshire. I heard more doctrinal senti- 
ments and more breathing after holiness expressed in a love 
feast here than in any other place I have visited lately. This 
society has been raised and a meetinghouse purchased by George 
Pickering in the course of this year. 

l The Congregationa lists were popularly called Presbyterians. 

138 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

"Of late I have been considerably afflicted. In general I 
enjoy peace of mind, but I do not enjoy that depth of religion 
which I believe it is the Christian's privilege to possess. 

"Sunday, June 11. I preached in Scarboro in the morning; 
rode eight miles and preached in Portsmouth in the evening. 
The Lord is present. Here the horse of Brother Sandford failed, 
and he determined to return, consequently I have to travel 
alone. Rode in company with Brother Joel Winch from Port- 
land to Monmouth. He is an agreeable young man. 

"The New England Conference commenced on Thursday, 
June 15, and closed on the evening of the fourth day. This is 
an amiable body of preachers, having many difficulties to en- 
counter and much love to support them. 

" Thursday, June 29. From Monmouth to Barnard. Have 
been blessed with the company and attention of Brother Branch, 
the presiding elder. He is a steady, pious, friendly man, his 
words few and profitable. Had a few meetings on our trip, a 
most comforting one this evening. 

"Saturday, July 8. At Kingsbury. From Barnard I have 
ridden from twenty-five to forty miles a day, and preached at 
Rutland, Willstown, Ash Grove, Lansingburg, Albany, Schen- 
ectady, and Kingsbury, but the fatigue has so overcome me that 
I have to stop a day and take physic. We have labored and 
suffered much through this country, but there is now a prospect 
of reaping the fruit of those who went before us. 

"Sunday, June 16, 1809. Capt. David Dorsey's, Lyons, be- 
tween Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. In consequence of confused 
plans, I had no regular appointments this week. It has been 
a time of affliction and trial. After losing more than an hour 
in crossing Lake Cayuga and riding twenty-five miles, I reached 
this place at twelve o'clock, just after the people left the meeting- 
house; but a very considerable congregation was collected at 
five o'clock, to whom I preached with satisfaction to myself, 
and I hope some were benefited. 

"Sunday, June 28. On the evening of last Sabbath it began 
to rain and continued without intermission for forty hours. 
The streams rose so high I could not go on. But few ventured 
to cross the outlet to-day; but I preached to a respectable 
congregation in Brother Dorsey's dwelling house. Although 
I am altogether at a loss to know how I am to get through 
this difficult country now, and my plan of appointments has 
fallen through, I have enjoyed peace of mind. Happily situ- 
ated, in an agreeable family, I have recovered my strength 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 139 

considerably and feel resigned to the providence which awaits 

"Saturday, June 29. Amaziah Button's, on Lycoming Creek. 
On Monday I preached at Geneva. Here Brother Draper was 
kind enough to meet and conduct me through the difficulties. 
On Tuesday morning we started, and crossed the Canandaigua 
Lake and village, through Bath; crossed the Conhocton at the 
painted post; Canestio, Tioga, to the Blockhouse; crossed the 
mountain and descended the Lycoming to this place. I have 
enjoyed serene peace this week. To God be all the glory! 

''Sunday, June 30. Preached in the meetinghouse at eleven 
o'clock, and in the courthouse at Port William at four o'clock 
in the afternoon. 

"Saturday, August 5. Thomas Waston's. On Monday 
morning I set out in pursuit of my appointments, intending to 
spend the next Sabbath in Bedford. We ascended the west 
branch of the Susquehanna, took up Eagle Creek to the iron 
works and reached this neghborhood on Thursday evening; 
and learning it is forty or fifty miles out of my way to go by 
Bedford to Pittsburgh, I determined to spend the Sabbath and 
preach here. Through the week have had unusual religious en- 
joyments; have been very kindly entertained by strangers, who 
seemed glad to see me. 

"Sunday, August 6. Preached at George Hyskell's Meeting- 
house to a large and attentive congregation; hope the labor was 
not in vain. Rode six miles through the rain to Benjamin John- 

"Monday, August 7. Ascended the Alleghany through 
Burgeon's Gap and lodged on the mountain, but the entertain- 
ment was intolerably bad. 

"Tuesday, August 8. Rode through rain for several hours; 
road extremely bad on account of deep mud, rocks, and water; 
lodged at James Wakefield's, but was afflicted by a few men who 
had drunk a quart of whisky each in the harvest field this day. 

"On Friday, August 11, I reached the camp ground on Pike 
Run, in Washington County. Here I got into my appointments, 
after losing a whole week on this side of the mountain on ac- 
count of the flood. At this encampment there were between 
thirty and forty wagons and eighty or ninety camps and tents. 

"On Sunday, August 13, there were two or three thousand 
people on the ground ; but such a proportion of worthless crea- 
tures, if I may judge by their behavior, I never saw at a place of 
worship before. On Friday and Saturday we had comfortable 

140 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

seasons, some converts; but from twelve o'clock on Sabbath the 
work put on an awful appearance and continued without inter- 
mission the greater part of the night. 

"Monday, August 14, was a very rainy day, but a great 
many serious people attended. The work was very consider- 
able through the afternoon and night. 

"On Tuesday morning the sacrament of the Lord's Supper 
was administered to about three hundred and fifty communi- 
cants; after which it was proposed to ascertain the number of 
converts at this meeting, but such was the excitement of the 
people, it was not attempted." 

Bishop Asbury also was present at this meeting, having 
arrived there on Saturday evening. He preached once 2 
Corinthians vi. 20; Bishop McKendree, four times Exodus 
xix. 10, 11; Isaiah xii. 6; Deuteronomy xxx. 19; and 1 Co- 
rinthians xiii. 13. 

From this place the bishops proceeded westward, taking dif- 
ferent routes for the Western Conference, Bishop Asbury going 
through Pittsburgh and Bishop McKendree passing through 
Washington, Pennsylvania, Steubenville, Zanesville, Chilli- 
cothe (Ohio), and reaching Cincinnati on September 27. Be- 
fore reaching there, however, he attended one quarterly meet- 
ing near Middletown and three more camp meetings the first 
near Chillicothe, the second at P. Catch's, and the last at John 
Collins's. At these meetings he preached nearly every day, 
and even when traveling usually preached either in the day or 
at night where he might lodge. Such were the zeal, the industry, 
and labor of our fathers, and thus was Methodism planted in 
this country. That such efforts were successful is not surprising. 
God was with them. If we would retain what they gained, we 
must love and labor like them. It is not enough to say we have 
John or Francis or William for our father: without their faith 
and works we are not of them nor like them. What would a 
modern star preacher think of traveling and laboring and suffer- 
ing like Asbury and McKendree, on horseback round the conti- 
nent annually? Yet they did this for many successive years. 

Bishop McKendree introduced a new style of things, in pre- 
siding over the Annual Conferences; for while Bishop Asbury 
always presided with dignity and impartiality, yet he was re- 
garded by the preachers as a father and did not on all occasions 
adhere strictly to the Rules of Order in the management of Con- 
ference business. His age, his long services, and his intimate 
acquaintance with the whole work and with the workmen gave 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 141 

him a position no one else could reasonably expect to occupy 
and relieved him from the necessity of attending rigidly to par- 
liamentary usage. But Bishop McKendree felt that his relation 
was in some respects a different one . Many of those over whom 
he was called to preside were older and more experienced than 
himself and would be far less likely to submit to him, as they 
had done to Bishop Asbury, than to be controlled by rules made 
by the Conference for the transaction of its own business. Be- 
sides, he was a man of method, as was evinced in everything he 
did and said, and had long since come to the conclusion that a 
close adherence to established rules by deliberative bodies is 
not only a protection to the minority and the president, but 
is calculated to expedite business. He therefore made himself 
familiar with the rules which obtain among such bodies and 
insisted upon each Conference adopting and adhering to them. 
And as he was prompt, impartial, and courteous in deciding all 
such questions of law and order as properly devolved upon him, 
he soon became, in the estimation of the whole connection, a 
model president. This first round, made in company with his 
venerated senior colleague, exhibited the contrast in their man- 
ner of conducting business and evinced his fitness for the office 
of president. And it is believed that during the whole of his 
episcopal career he was rarely, if ever, known to make an official 
decision from which a majority dissented. The secret of his suc- 
cess in this respect was that he thoroughly understood the Dis- 
cipline and usage of the Church and was perfectly familiar with 
the rules of debate. Thus was he enabled to detect the least 
divergence from law and order; and his self-command, combined 
with a prompt yet mild and conciliatory mode of address, in- 
spired confidence and gave much weight to his decisions. We 
have often heard the opinion expressed by those competent to 
judge that Bishop McKendree was unsurpassed in Church or 
State as a presiding officer; and the writer, who has the mis- 
fortune never to have seen Bishop Asbury in the chair, is de- 
cidedly of the opinion that he has never seen anyone who so 
impressed and controlled a body of men as Bishop McKendree 
did in his palmy days. There were always quietness, order, and 
a respectful manner among all the members of Conference 
where he presided. 

The name of Dr. Coke is too intimately connected with 
American Methodism to allow it to disappear suddenly from 
any work which professes to give a general account of Method- 
ism'during the latter part of the eighteenth and the former part 

142 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of the nineteenth century. And as we have on several occa- 
sions adverted to his official relation to American Methodism 
and shall present the reader with several letters from him to 
Bishop McKendree, we hope it may be pardoned if we now 
bring up the history of this noble-hearted minister from the 
General Conference of 1804 to the present date. 

It appears that Dr. Coke never visited America after 1804. 
Indeed, after the death of Mr. Wesley, in 1791, his services in 
England were regarded as almost indispensable, especially in 
connection with the foreign mission work. Hence, in the ad- 
dress of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference to our General 
Conference in 1804, they earnestly solicited the return of the 
Doctor; and the General Conference consented to the request, 
with the proviso, "that he shall hold himself, subject to the call 
of three of our Annual Conferences, to return when requested; 
but, at farthest, that he shall return, if he lives, to the next 
General Conference." The improved state of Bishop Asbury's 
health, together with the assistance he now received in the 
general superintendency of the work by the election of Mr. 
Whatcoat, rendered it less important to detain the Doctor. 
Immediately upon his return to England, from his ninth and 
last visit to America, he entered most zealously and efficiently 
upon his work as superintendent of missions. His operations 
embraced both home and foreign missions; and, by his inde- 
fatigable efforts in obtaining funds from friends to the cause 
and from his own private fortune, he succeeded in supporting 
them, contrary to the fears of many of his brethren. If his 
schemes seemed occasionally too visionary, his astonishing 
success in raising money to sustain them seemed to justify his 
views and silenced objections. Having married an estimable 
and wealthy lady, April 1, 1805 Miss Penelope Goulding 
Smith he addressed a circular to his American brethren in 
June, 1805, announcing his marriage and proposing to reside 
permanently with them "on the express condition that the 
seven Conferences should be divided betwixt us i. e., Bishop 
Asbury and himself three and four, and four and three, each 
of us changing our division annually; and that this plan, at all 
events, should continue permanent and unalterable during both 
our lives." 

Allusions have frequently been made from certain quarters 
to an overture made by Dr. Coke to Bishop White in 1791, for 
a union of the Methodist Episcopal with the Protestant Episco- 
pal Church; and he has been severely blamed on the one hand 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 143 

as having taken an unauthorized and rash step; and on the 
other, his proposition has been regarded as a confession of the 
defectiveness of his ordination and of the organization of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. In mitigation of the censure of 
some and in refutation of the inferences of others, it ought to be 
remembered that the period when Dr. Coke conceived this 
purpose was one of peculiar gloom in the history of American 
Methodism. It was the year of Mr. Wesley's death; and, al- 
though the Church in America had been organized in 1784, yet 
the constitution of the Church had not been secured against 
infringement by the provision for a regularly returning dele- 
gated General Conference acting under restrictions and limita- 
tions. It was also about the time of Mr. O'Kelly's secession. 
These things combined to alarm Dr. Coke; and, without having 
hinted the matter to Mr. Wesley or consulted his colleague or 
any other Methodist minister, he acted from the impulse of the 
hour. His object, doubtless, was to strengthen the Church 
by the union and prevent a convulsion, which his fears had 
magnified into a terrible approaching calamity. But his proposi- 
tion, unauthorized and indefinite as it was, and which, perhaps, 
he had not himself elaborated fully in his own mind, looked to 
a union of the Churches and not to a dissolution of either of 
them. Nor is there any evidence that, in any event, he had 
become willing to disavow his ordination. He did not intend 
"a dereliction of ordination, sacraments, and the Methodist 
Discipline, but a junction on proper terms." Bishop White 
respectfully entertained the Doctor's plan for consideration; 
but, of course, it failed. The Doctor himself, upon more mature 
reflection, perceived the impracticability, not to say folly, of 
this act, and requested the Bishop to burn his letter, which he 
regarded as private and confidential. But it seems that Bishop 
White and his friends did not regard the correspondence in this 
light, and after the whole affair had been kept secret from 1791 
until 1804, it was made public. We do not accuse the Bishop 
of violating a moral or honorable obligation; and, as it seems he 
did not feel precluded by a sense of propriety from giving it to 
the world, it was hardly to be expected that others less scrupu- 
lous and liberal than himself would suffer so good an opportu- 
nity to pass without using it to give their Methodist neighbor the 
thrust ecclesiastic. But was there any sin, or real degradation, 
in proposing an honorable union between two young Churches 
not separated by any serious differences in doctrine or ritual? 
The writer has reason to believe that some excellent and tal- 

144 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

ented clergymen, and many of the best members of the Bishop's 
Church, would not have been horrified at such a union even a 
few years ago, a thing which he regards as neither practicable 
nor desirable now, if it ever was. 

The following original letter, written by Dr. Coke to Bishop 
Asbury upon this subject, has been found among the papers of 
Bishop McKendree and is now, for the first time, given in full 1 
to the press. The Doctor had but recently heard of the use 
which had been made of his correspondence upon this subject, 
and gives his version of his motives and acts in the premises: 

NEAR LEEDS, February 2, 1808. 

Very Dear Brother and Friend: For some time you got the start of me in 
letters; but of late I have got the start of you. Perhaps I may not hear 
from you till after the General Conference. 

I have heard there has been a paper war concerning a letter I wrote in 
1791 to Bishop White. But I did everything with a pure intention. We 
had then no General Conference. You were then the only center of union; 
and you yourself saw the danger the infant connection was in, which in- 
duced you, I doubt not, to lay the plan of an Annual Council at Cokesbury. 
I differed, it is true, in sentiment, from my dear venerable brother in that 
respect; but, as I before observed, you laid that plan from a full conviction 
it was absolutely necessary to do something for the security of the union 
of the body. I was fully convinced of the same necessity and did then 
really believe (though I do not know) that a junction with the Episcopal 
Church, on proper terms, would, under the blessing of God, answer the 

I never applied to the convention for reconsecration. I never intended 
that either you or I should give up our episcopal ordination. I did be- 
lieve that a junction, as above, would very much enlarge our field of action, 
and that myriads would, in consequence of it, attend our ministry, who 
were then much prejudiced against us. My proposals secured our Dis- 
cipline in all points and the independence of our places of worship. I had 
no thoughts of deciding on anything (it would have been the greatest folly 
to have indulged such thoughts) without your full consent and the consent 
of the General Conference, which was to be held the next year, to deter- 
mine on the case of James O'Kelly's division. I only wanted to put things 
in a train. The proposal met with the approbation of the bishops of the 
old Episcopal Church in America, but was thrown out by the lower house 
of convention, as Mr. Ogden informed me. But all this was merely in the 
way of preparation; for it would have been absurd to have brought the 
business before the General Conference (which, for what I knew at that 
time, might never meet again) without knowing the minds of the old 

'Dr. Emory, it seems, had seen a copy of this letter, and makes a few quotations from it in 
his "Defense of Our Fathers." 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 145 

Church. 1 It was at that General Conference, which was held on the case 
of James O'Kelly, that it was resolved to have, in future, regular General 
Conferences. But I now see that the failure of my plan, which was laid 
down from the purest motives, was for the best. You yourself, my dear 
brother, never loved the American Church more than I have done, I verily 
believe (excuse me for saying so), though I grant you have had more op- 
portunities of serving it. However, I do conjure you, my brother, by the 
glory of God and by every motive which can proceed from declarations of 
affection, on your part as well as mine, by every Christian grace, by our 
union in the Church, and particularly the honor of Him who is the great 
mystical, real, and spiritual Head of us both, that you do not suffer my 
character to be injured at the next General Conference. 

I shall say no more, but leave the whole to God. 

Our work in the United Kingdom goes on well, very well. We have not 
those astonishing, refreshing times which you have in your camp meetings; 
but there is a secret, gradual, and deep work on all hands, which, when it 
comes to be opened and examined at the Conference, gives an increase of 
ten thousand, nine thousand, etc. And this is the more extraordinary as 
there is nothing heard of but war. One hundred and thirty thousand 
sailors just voted for by the Parliament for the ships of war and an im- 
mense military force. And among all these descriptions of men, there are 
but few who are born again. And yet the work increases! Let God have 
all the glory! 

My precious wife and I are continually on the wing. We have no home 
but God, and he is indeed our home, our constant home, our comfortable 
home, our dwelling place, our tabernacle, our heaven here below, our all in 
all. Glory, forever glory be to his name ! She unites with me in love to you 
and our brethren, the preachers. God bless you! Pray for us. 

I am, my dear, esteemed friend, yours affectionately and faithfully, 


After the able and satisfactory vindication of Dr. Coke and 
of American Methodism by Dr. Bangs, and especially by the 
late Bishop Emory in his "Defense of Our Fathers," no ex- 
planation or defense can be necessary upon this point. Those 
wishing to see a full exposition of this whole affair may find it in 
Bishop Emory's work, referred to above. 

Dr. Bangs, in referring to the proviso in Dr. Coke's letter, 
calls it a proposition "to become a resident in America on. the 
condition that the continent should be divided into two parts, 
one of which to be under his superintendency and the other 
under the superintendency of Bishop Asbury." ("History of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church," Vol. II, p. 179.) And Larabee 

ifiishop Coke, as an Englishman, naturally identifies the Protestant 
Episcopal Church with the Colonial Church]ofJEngland, "the old Church," 
though in reality the Methodist Episcopal Church in America was organ- 
ized before the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. 

146 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

repeats the same view in his "Asbury and His Coadjutors," 
Volume I, p. 326. The writer confesses that, guided by these 
authorities, he had always done Dr. Coke the injustice of be- 
lieving that he had proposed a permanent territorial division 
of the work; whereas he only proposed a plan for permanent 
alternation with Bishop Asbury in superintending the Confer- 
ences. An original printed circular, with the autograph of Dr. 
Coke, dated June 1, 1805, now lying before him, first relieved 
his mind of the impression that the Doctor had proposed so in- 
judicious and unconstitutional a condition as the words of Dr. 
Bangs seem to express. The fact is, Dr. Coke did not think he 
ought to abandon his useful position in England unless he could 
occupy such & relation to the work in America as would give 
him an opportunity of at least equal usefulness. He therefore 
proposed to be considered as Mr. Asbury's equal in administra- 
tion, as he was in office; for heretofore he had not, in a single in- 
stance, presided over a Conference or stationed the preachers, 
except in the presence and under the supervision of Bishop 
Asbury. Should he make America his home, he required to be 
regarded as on a parity with his colleague. The errors of Dr. 
Coke in making this proposition were: First, he ignored, un- 
designedly doubtless, the position and claims of Bishop What- 
coat, who was still living and was greatly and justly loved and 
who was then actively engaged in the duties of his office. The 
Doctor, doubtless, regarded him as superannuated. Second, 
he called upon the preachers to divide the work; whereas, the 
bishops, by an arrangement of their own, can annually distrib- 
ute the work of visiting and supervising the Conferences. No 
doubt Bishops Asbury and Whatcoat would have gladly 
recognized him as their equal in every respect and would possi- 
bly have agreed to such an alternating plan of superintendence as 
has been practiced in America for many years. But their con- 
currence was not asked by the Doctor, and neither the Annual 
nor General Conferences, much less the preachers in their indi- 
vidual capacity, possessed the authority to control the question. 
Such an interference might have had a baneful influence as a 
precedent, leading to the destruction of "our plan of itinerant 
general superintendency." Third, this plan was to last as long 
as he and Bishop Asbury should live, which would have been 
violated by the election of another bishop during that time, 
however necessary it might be to have another. Of course Dr. 
Coke did not come back to the United States, as the Annual 
Conferences did not urge him to do so in view of the condition 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 147 

upon which he proposed to come, notwithstanding the death of 
Bishop Whatcoat in 1806, leaving Bishop Asbury alone, rendered 
his services very desirable. The Doctor remained in England 
and was both useful and popular; and American Methodism 
was, perhaps, not greatly retarded by his declining to come. 

A reply to Dr. Coke's circular was adopted by the Baltimore 
Conference, March 17, 1806. The copy, which was carried by 
the bishops to the Annual Conferences, is before me, signed by 
the committee who prepared and reported it viz., George Rob- 
erts, David Hill, Enoch George, Nelson Reed, and Alexander 
McCaine; and by Joseph Toy, Secretary. We do not admire its 
temper and think it unnecessarily and unjustly severe. To 
some of its doctrines we are decidedly opposed, while we ap- 
prove its main object and its general bearing. It is a rare docu- 

There is also before us the reply of the Philadelphia Confer- 
ence to the Doctor's circular, which, while it plainly and firmly 
declines the terms upon which he proposed to return to America, 
yet does so in the most mild and respectful language. It is a 
model document, dated Philadelphia, April 19, 1806, and signed 
W. P. Chandler, Secretary. 

About 1806 Dr. Coke finished his great work, " Commentary 
on the Bible," which he had undertaken in compliance with the 
request of the Wesleyan Conference of 1792. 

Dr. Coke may be justly styled the father and founder of the 
domestic and foreign missions of our British brethren; at least, 
so far as they were not the direct result of the itinerant system 
under Mr. Wesley. He is entitled to the credit of having found- 
ed and sustained the mission in the British Colony at Sierra 
Leone, Africa. Having failed in his first attempt to establish a 
mission among the heathen Africans, his attention was after- 
wards called to the fact that some negroes who had been carried 
at the close of our Revolution by the British troops and Tories 
from the United States to Nova Scotia had finally been colo- 
nized at Sierra Leone, and that some of them, having been Meth- 
odists in America, had introduced religious worship among the 
colonists, had formed a society, and built a chapel, he imme- 
diately resolved to supply them with a preacher. Hence the 
origin of British missions among the Africans. He advanced 
three thousand dollars to furnish the outfit of this mission; 
and for the outfit of the East India Mission, he offered thirty 
thousand dollars, if so much should be found necessary. 

For many years, by his personal influence, he sustained mis- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 148 

sions in the West Indies, Nova Scotia, the Norman Isles, Ire- 
land, Wales, Gibraltar, and the destitute portions of England; 
and it was only a short time before his death that any perma- 
nent and reliable organization for raising missionary money 
was devised by the Wesleyan Methodists. 1 

Dr. Coke does not seem to be chagrined by the course pur- 
sued toward him in America in declining his proposition, for at 
the General Conference he substantially renews his former 
proposal, if his services should be deemed imperatively neces- 
sary. His kind, congratulatory letter to Bishop McKendree 
upon his election, already quoted, is another evidence of his 
sincerity and magnanimity. 

It is foreign to our purpose to follow, in detail, the history of 
this great and good man; suffice it to say that after having 
devoted a life of singular purity and energy to the cause of God, 
to which he had given an amount of money out of his own purse 
which might be regarded, even in England, as a large fortune, 
he projected the East India Mission. On December 30, 1813, 
he, in company with a noble band of missionaries, embarked for 
India, and on May 4, 1814, he died on board the ship. His body 
rests under the equator, in the midst of the Indian Ocean, but 
we doubt not his ardent and holy soul has found a home in the 
Father's house. He died of apoplexy, suddenly and alone in 
the night, in his sixty-seventh year. 

Dr. Coke was very low of stature, but finely proportioned. 
His voice was feminine, and remarkable for melody and dis- 
tinctness. He was a ripe scholar, a ready debater, quick in his 
apprehensions, impulsive in his emotions, and a delightful 
preacher. He was fitted, both by nature and habit, to an active 
life. One great passion reigned over his life, it was a noble one: 
it was to do good by spreading true religion over the earth. 
Methodism owes him much. In England, Mr. Wesley found 
him a very useful helper; and after that great reformer passed 
away, the Doctor was of infinite service in uniting the society 
and guiding its missionary operations. American Methodists 
should never forget the man who came to help Asbury and 
Methodism, as did Lafayette to sustain Washington and Con- 
gress in the Revolution. Nor was his love for us a sudden or a 
transient feeling. He crossed the Atlantic nine times; and, 
although he did not remain long at a time, yet his talents and 
influence were ever ready to be employed for our welfare. 

'-"Larabee," Vol. I. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 149 

His peculiarities were the result of his temperament and of 
his English education. His virtues were many and great. In 
connection with the constellation of the world's benefactors, his 
name will glitter in the historic firmament like a bright and 
beautiful star, forever. His body rests amid the pearls which 
pave the Indian Ocean; its deep, blue waves sing his requiem, 
but his monument is the missionary enterprise of English and 
American Methodism; and at the resurrection of the just, myri- 
ads from Africa, Europe, America, and the islands of the sea, 
will hail him blessed. 

Servant of God, well done! 

Rest from thy loved employ; 
The battle fought, the vict'ry won, 

Enter thy Master's joy! 

The voice at midnight came; 

He started up to hear; 
A mortal arrow pierced his frame: 

He fell, but felt no fear. 

Soldier of Christ, well done! 

Praise be thy new employ; 
And while eternal ages run, 

Rest in thy Saviour's joy. 


Bishops McKendree and Asbury go from Cincinnati to South Carolina 
Conference Thence to Virginia Conference To Baltimore Easton, 
Pa. New York New England Genesee Conference Camp meet- 
ing Conferences Through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee Bishops As- 
bury and McKendeee go on horseback to South Carolina Winter tour 
Letter from Bishop Morris Method Mrs. Mabry's letter Attends 
various Conferences Letter to Bishop Asbury about stationing the 
preachers General Conference of 1812 Presiding elder question 
No bishop elected Earthquake "War Letters. 

BISHOPS McKENDREE and Asbury, accompanied by William 
Burke and others, left Cincinnati, the seat of the late Western 
Conference, on October 9, 1809. 1 As usual in those days, 
their appointments were in advance of them, and it became 
necessary for them to start at midnight in order to get to Mount 
Gerizim in time to meet their engagement. 

Passing on through Kentucky and preaching alternately, 
they visited Lexington and Springfield, through Green and 
Barren Counties; Bishop Asbury, however, taking the direct 
route from Lexington to South Carolina, through East Tennes- 
see, and Buncombe County, N. C., while Bishop McKendree 
turned aside to visit his relations near Nashville, Tenn. On 
this trip he called upon his old friends, James Gwin, Henry 
Tooly, Elmore Douglass, William Woodward, and others. 
From Nashville he started to Charleston, to attend the South 
Carolina Conference; and passing through the upper part of 
Alabama, then inhabited by the Cherokee Indians, we find him 
at Benjamin Watts's in Jackson County, Ga., on November 9; 
on the thirteenth, at Hope Hull's; the sixteenth at James Meri- 
wether's; on the nineteenth he preached at Athens; on the twent- 
ty-sixth, at Greensboro; at Milledgeville on the thirtieth; at 
Dudley Hargrove's, his relative, on December 5; thence by 
Colonel Foster's, Josiah Randle's, Weisinger's, to Augusta, 
reaching Charleston, S. C., the nineteenth. The Southern 
Conference began on Saturday, December 23, in the city 
of Charleston, and held a week. Here he met Bishop Asbury, 
and the Conference seems to have been an interesting and prof- 
itable one. On December 30, the Conference being over, 

l At this Conference "about eighty preachers were stationed, fourteen 
rejected, nine located; increase, 2,366." 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 151 

the bishops left Charleston and spent the night with Thomas 
McKendree, the Bishop's brother, who "fed them richly." The 
following Sabbath they both preached in Fayetteville, N. G.; 
on Wednesday, at Wilmington; Sabbath, January 14, 1810, at 
Newbern; twenty-first, at Norfolk, Va. Leaving Bishop As- 
bury, Bishop McKendree visited his father, and joined him 
again at Petersburg, where the Virginia Conference opened 
Febuary 8, 1810, and closed on the fourteenth. 

From the seat of the Virginia Conference the bishops pro- 
ceeded to Baltimore by different routes, Bishop McKendree 
passing through Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, Dumfries, spend- 
ing .a little time preaching in Alexandria, Georgetown, and 
Washington City. 

The Baltimore Conference for 1810 was held in the city of 
Baltimore. It began on March 8, and lasted eight days. 
Bishop Asbury was worn down with fatigue and otherwise very 
unwell, and most of the labor of presiding, etc., devolved upon 
Bishop McKendree; He preached in Light Street Church at 
eleven o'clock, on 2 Corinthians vii. 12, and on "The Point" at 
three o'clock, on 1 John xvi . 17 . From the Baltimore Conference 
they went to Easton, and opened the Philadelphia Conference, 
on April 20, and concluded it on the twenty-seventh. There 
was a camp meeting in the neighborhood of the Conference, and 
the session was a pleasant one. The Diary of Bishop McKen- 
dree shows that one of them preached nearly every day while 
traveling, and sometimes both of them. 

Bishop McKendree's route to the New York Conference was 
through Wilmington, Del., Philadelphia, and Trenton. He 
reached New York on May 10, and was fully employed in 
visiting and preaching until the twenty-first, when the Con- 
ference began. It concluded during the week. 

The New England Conference for 1810 was held at Win- 
chester, Mass., begining on June 6, and closing on the tenth. 
From thence Bishop McKendree passed through. and preached 
at Lynn, Marblehead, Boston (Heb. x. 35), Wilbraham 
(Prov. i. 23), West Springfield, Westfield, and Schenectady, to 
Lyons Town, where the Genesee Conference began on July 
20. This seems also to have been a camp meeting Con- 
ference "great order and dispatch in business" stationed 
sixty-three preachers, and cured some, until then, incura- 
ble cases." In reference to the outcry raised by certain persons 
against the bishops for appointing this Conference, charging 
them with an assumption of power, etc., Bishop Asbury adds, 

152 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

in his significant and laconic style: "If the outcry of want of 
order came from God, the appointment of the Genesee Con- 
ference was one of the most judicious acts of our episcopacy." 

The bishops parted company at the Genesee Conference, 
each wending his way toward the southwest, to attend the next 
session of the Western Conference, in Shelbyville, Ky., No- 
vember 1. Both of their Journals are before me. They both 
attended several camp meetings on their respective routes, 
besides preaching almost daily and assisting at a goodly number 
of quarterly meetings. They were never idle or uselessly em- 
ployed. Bishop McKendree passed through Springfield, Ohio, 
attended a camp meeting on Rush Creek, on August 18; was 
at Chillicothe on the twenty-fifth; crossed the Ohio River at 
Limestone on the twenty-ninth; preached in Lexington, Ky., 
on the thirty-first (1 Sam. iii. 18), recrossed the Ohio at Old 
Trace on September 12; was taken sick next day, but was able 
to preach at Jeffersonville on Sabbath, September 15 (Rev. 
iii. 20) ; attended a camp meeting at Ferguson's September 21-24; 
visited Jesse Head, B. McHenry, M. Lasley, Quessenbury, Pope, 
etc. October 5-8, he attended the Nashville camp meeting, 
held at Liberty Hill, and the Fountain Head Camp meeting 
October, 19-22, and enjoyed the society of his relations and his 
old friends Gwin, Blackman, and others. 

The Western Conference was held this year in the field of his 
former usefulness. It began on November 1, and continued 
eight days. It was a session "of great peace and good order." 
The second day, "Friday, was a day of humiliation and fasting. 
Twenty-six were admitted, ninety-five stationed; the increase is 
four thousand." The Conference over, the bishops started for 
the far-distant Southern Conference. Even the venerable As- 
bury, old, feeble, and afflicted as he was, found it necessary to 
exchange his sulky for the saddle in order to traverse the wil- 
derness and get safely over the mountains and streams which 
had to be encountered in this long midwinter trip. 

On Sabbath, November 18, both of the bishops were at Bishop 
McKendree's father's; but the next day they were off for South 
Carolina. Their route led by John McGee's, Dr. Tooley's, and 
J. Winton's, in East Tennessee, through Buncombe County, 
N. C., in deep snow, etc. Bishop McKendree and John McGee 
started at five o'clock and rode twenty-five miles in the piercing 
cold, over the Buncombe Mountains, to an appointment at 
Edney's, and Bishop McKendree preached (Jer. iv. 14). Con- 
tinuing their toilsome and most unpleasant journey, they ar- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 153 

rived at Columbia, S. C., in time to open the Conference on 
Saturday, December 22. "Order, peace, and love" character- 
ized the session. About eighty preachers were stationed. 

But it would be tiresome to the reader to follow the daily toils 
of this devoted man. Let the above suffice as a specimen. 

With the Journal of Bishop Asbury and the Diary of McKen- 
dree before the writer, he is more than ever impressed with the 
sentiment that all great, practical, useful men are remarkable 
for method and painstaking. The truly great man attends to 
little as well as great things. See this Diary; how neatly kept! 
as legible now, after the lapse of half a century, as if written an 
hour since; every day filled up with the name of the person with 
whom he stayed, the distance traveled, the meetinghouse in 
which he preached (his text given perfectly), where the Con- 
ferences were held, how long, etc. And when it is remembered 
that he was almost constantly in the saddle, frequently starting 
before day and traveling until dark, often in dirty and uncom- 
fortable taverns, never having more than a day's rest in the 
month, and consequently without the quietude or facilities of 
keeping a regular journal, it is astonishing that he was able, from 
year to year, to commit so many facts to paper in so regular and 
consecutive a manner. 

The love of order was a striking trait of Bishop McKendree's 
character; so that while he seemed constantly intent upon great 
and important matters, he was never known to neglect the 
minute affairs of life. A remarkable instance of this, and one 
strikingly illustrative of his scrupulous regard for the rights of 
others, is given in the following letter of Bishop Morris, ad- 
dressed to Bishop Soule in 1836: 

Brother Soule: The following anecdote, though unimportant in itself, 
may possibly serve to illustrate one peculiar characteristic of Bishop Mc- 
Kendree namely, his scrupulous attention to the rules of propriety in 
little things. You may use it or not, as may seem proper to yourself. 

Many years ago the precise time not recollected one day in Confer- 
ence, Bishop McKendree asked me for the loan of a pencil. I handed him 
the only article of the kind I had. It was a very small cedar pencil, perhaps 
two inches and a half long and less in diameter than a common rye straw, 
with a plain brass head. It was used primarily as a pin, to fasten a small 
pocket memorandum book, and to make notes on the same. The original 
value of the article could not have been more than three cents. Of so 
little importance was it to me that I did not miss it at all or remember the 
transaction again until a year afterwards, when the Bishop one day in 
Conference beckoned to me, and on my approaching him, handed me the 
pencil, which he had kept for me on a tour of some thousands of miles, 

154 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

having perhaps forgotten to return it at the proper time. As the business 
of Conferences was in progress, he gave no explanation, but the sight of the 
pencil and a moment's reflection brought the whole transaction to my 
mind and afforded a theme of profitable meditation upon the character of 
a man who, amid the trials and perils of his extended journeys and his 
numerous and daily cares respecting the Church over which he exercised 
his general superintendency, could still charge his mind with so small a 

He that would succeed in carrying out the principles of a great system 
must attend punctually to all its little details, as did Bishop McKendree 
in regard to Methodism. 

Yours respectfully, THOMAS A. MORRIS. 

MEADVILLB, PA. August 17, 1 63. 

The trait in Bishop McKendree's character so happily illus- 
trated in the above anecdote by Bishop Morris was developed 
in many ways. It displayed itself in the systematic arrange- 
ment of all his business. He was a man of method. He could 
not preach, debate, or converse satisfactorily without regard to 
it. His plan of traveling and preaching on the way must always 
be prearranged. His traveling equipage, whether he went on 
horseback or in a carriage, was ever most carefully adjusted. 
His horse was never neglected, nor could he retire to rest after 
having been exhausted by a long and wearisome day's journey 
until he knew he had received the best possible attention. As 
"a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast," so this good 
man regarded the comfort of his horse. This was strikingly 
displayed in the provision made by his will for the support of 
his faithful "Old Gray." 

His clothes were packed in his saddledags, or carriage trunk, 
by his own hands, for who could do it so neatly? His papers 
were folded, labeled, and put up as he only could do it. In his 
dress and address you perceived in a moment the neatness, 
simplicity, and courteousness of a gentleman who respected 
both himself and his company too highly to seem careless of his 
appearance. And while he was far from being stiff or unsocial 
in his manners, there was always about him a dignified and re- 
spectful demeanor, mingled with affability, which bespoke his 
character and his position. His presence always commanded 
respect, and his manners won the confidence of strangers; so 
that even those who loved to ridicule preachers felt constrained 
to treat him civilly; and children, reading his feelings in his face, 
would instinctively smile, climb upon his knees, and nestle in 
his bosom. There was an indescribable persuasiveness in his 
manner, whether in the pulpit or in the social circle. When ani- 

Life and 'Times of Bishop McKendree 15J> 

mated, there was a kind of illumination of his features, remind- 
ing one of the gleaming of lightning behind a thin cloud. Before 
his tongue uttered the words, his eyes and mildly radiant face 
had already half told what was coming. His sense of propriety 
was such that he was rarely known to say or do anything of 
questionable fitness. His delicacy and sensibility were remark- 
able* The same mental peculiarity which dictated order in 
everything relating to business matters, dress, etc., induced 
him to be careful of his words, so that "proper words in proper 
places " best defines his sermons and conversations. Hence, too, 
the ease with which he could adapt his style and manner to the 
capacities and circumstances of his hearers. 

The following communication, taken from the Sunday school 
Visitor of 1852, sent to me by the late Rev. Anthony Dibrell 
(of precious memory), was furnished by Mrs.Mabry,of Peters- 
burg, Va., and was addressed to children. She was the daughter 
of Mr. Grissell Davis, in whose house Mr. McKendree was 
ordained deacon in 1790, and where he often stayed. It illus- 
trates several traits to which reference has been made. 

My Dear Little Children: When I was young, nothing delighted me more 
than to hear my mother tell about old times; presuming you have the same 
kind of curiosity, and as I like children dearly and like to please them, I 
will give you some account of my intercourse with Bishop McKendree 
when I was a little girl and he a young man. 

My father's house was, for many years and as long as he lived a home 
for Methodist preachers. At one time Bishop McKendree was stationed 
in the town in which we lived. I do not remember how long he stayed at 
our house, but long enough for him and myself to become intimate friends. 
He was remarkably fond of children. He liked very much to have his hair 
combed, and I would stand, perhaps an hour at a time, on my little chair 
combing his beautiful black hair, which curled naturally, and twining it 
around my tiny fingers. It was all cut short except behind, and there it 
was just long enough to curl. He would almost fall asleep while I was 
amusing myself behind him. When I came to arrange it in front, he would 
take me on his knee. And when I was done, a very sweet kiss would be my 
reward and many thanks also. I would then take my little chair and sit 
close by him and count the buttons at his knees, there were five at each knee; 
and he wore buckles on his shoes, too. I shall never forget his appearance, 
for, in my opinion, he was perfectly beautiful. His eyes were bright and 
black, and the expression of his countenance was mild amd benignant. 
He had a hoiy, happy look. I remember one day I had finished combing 
his hair and was playing about the room when some one observed there was 
a cloud rising. A thunder-cloud was the most terrible thing in the world 
to me. I always nestled as closely as possible to my mother, because I 
thought she was so good the lightning would not hurt her. She mentioned 

156 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

to the Bishop how much I was alarmed and how sorry she was to see 
a cloud on my account. I recollect that he called me to him, took me on 
his knees, laid my head on his breast, and soothed me with the kindest 
words. When the sharp lightning came, I would hide my little face in his 
bosom and feel perfectly safe, because I thought nothing could harm me 
while near him, although I knew I was sinful, for I cannot remember the 
time I did not know it or had not the fear of the Lord before my eyes. 
After the violence of the storm was over, he related an anecdote. There 
was a lady, he said, who feared lightning very much. She had heard that it 
never struck little children; and whenever she saw a cloud arising, she 
would gather as many around her as she could. One day she had one or 
two on her lap and several others about her, and felt safe. A cat and 
kitten were lying in the door, very near together, when there came a 
severe flash of lightning, which killed the cat and left the kitten unhurt. It 
had such an effect upon her that she began from that time to seek religion, 
and never rested until she found it. I could tell you a great deal about 
the impression his words made upon my heart at that time and in after 
years, when I grew up to maturity, but I am not writing my own history. 
Perhaps, if you like what I have now written, and my health will permit, I 
may tell you about some of the other bishops and preachers. I knew Bishop 
Asbury, Bishop Whatcoat, Dr. Coke, but never loved any as well as I did 
Bishop McKendree. AN OLD LADY. 

It might be unprofitable to follow the narrative of the Bishop's 
daily travels and labors through the year 1811, having given so 
full an account of his first two official tours around the continent; 
let it suffice, then, to state that his Diary shows that from the 
seat of the Southern Conference, in Columbia, S. C., he started 
on December 29, 1810, for the Virginia Conference, which 
met at Raleigh, N. C., on Febuary 7, 1811; thence to the Balti- 
more Conference, held in the city, March, 20-28; thence to 
Philadelphia, where the Conference was opened on April 20, to 
the New York Conference, in the city of New York, May 20-25; 
the New England Conference, at Barnard's Town, Vermont, 
June 20-27; the Genessee Conference, in Paris, N.Y., July 20-25, 
thus closing his third round of Conference visitations. In 
looking over the notes entered in his Journal on these tours, it 
strikes the reader that he was a most laborious and punctual 
preacher. He seems, for months, to have preached and traveled 
almost every day when not actually holding Conference. Mid- 
winter and summer were, in this respect, alike to him. Thus, in 
December he had two rest days; in November, none; in January, 
two; Febuary, none; March, two; April, none; May none; June, 
none; July, none; August, two; in September, none, although he 
attended three camp meetings in Ohio during the month and 
preached nearly every day. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 157 

Bishop Asbury, as usual, attended all the Conferences and 
found time to visit Canada and see the state of the work there 
in the interval of the last two Conferences. The journey, how- 
ever, was performed in great bodily pain, and he arrived at the 
Genesee Conference with exhausted strength and a complica- 
tion of diseases. He had traveled sixteen hundred miles in sixty 
days. "Sore, lame, and weary," he got to Paris. He adds: 
"My spirit rejoiced with dear Bishop McKendree; he nursed me 
as if I had been his own baby." Slowly wending their way 
westward, inquiring into the condition of the societies lying on 
their routes and preaching almost daily, they began their un- 
ceasing round of labor again at the Western Conference, in Cin- 
cinnati, November 1, 1811. 

It appears from the following letter that Bishop Asbury at 
the close of the Genesee Conference, which finished the third 
of the Annual Conferences since 1808, urged Bishop McKendree 
to adopt his plan of stationing the preachers without consulting 
the presiding elders, to which he objected, but proposed a mod- 
ification of it as follows: 

Cincinnati, October 8, 1811. 

Brother Asbury; I am fully convinced of the utility and necessity of 
the council of the presiding elders in stationing the preachers, but you fear 
individuals will make it difficult, if not impracticable, for you to proceed 
on this plan. I am willing to assist you in the best way I can; and as I am 
in duty bound, so I hold myself in readiness to render the most effectual 
service to the Church. Consequently, I am still willing to accede to the 
proposition which you made at the Genesee Conference if it may be quali- 
fied. If it is still your wish, I will take the plan of stations, after you have 
matured it, call the elders to my assistance, and, after deliberate council, 
report in favor or dictate such alterations as may be thought necessary. But 
I still refuse to take the whole responsibility upon myself, not that I am 
afraid of proper accountability, but because I conceive the proposition 
included one highly inproper. 

Yours, in the bonds of a yokefellow, W. MCKENDREE. 

After the Western Conference, he went to Camden, S. C.; 
thence to Richmond, Va.; thence to Leesburg, Va.; and thence 
to Philadelphia, April 18-25, 1812, holding a Conference at 
each of these places. 

Let the reader think of one of these trips, say from Cincin- 
nati, Ohio, by way of Lexington, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., through 
the Indian Nation and Georgia, to Camden, S. C. Let him 
think of the distance traveled on this single tour; the cold of 
midwinter; the mud; the swollen streams, frequently without 
bridges or ferryboats; the fatigue of horseback riding to men 

158 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

from fifty-five to sixty-eight years old; the discomforts of road- 
side taverns; and, in addition to all this, "the daily care of all 
the Churches," and he will have some conception of their sacri- 
fices and sufferings. Surely, they must have been more or less 
than men to endure all this unless it were for Christ's sake. 

At the close of the Philadelphia Conference, Bishop McKen- 
dree was taken sick and was not able to reach New York until 
several days had elapsed in the session of the General Con- 

The General Conference, which began in the city of New 
York, May 1, 1812, was the first delegated convention of the 
Church. Eight Conferences were represented by ninety dele- 
gates. It was a most important assembly, inasmuch as it not 
only determined questions of great interest to the welfare of the 
Church, but especially as it tested the fealty of her represent- 
atives in the highest judicatory of the Church to the constitu- 
tion itself. Methodism was about to pass the ordeal which the 
civil government had experienced in the first Congress under 
the Federal Constitution. And, as in the latter case, the prac- 
tical application of the constitution was rendered both more 
difficult and important on account of the novelty of the experi- 
ment and the danger of introducing precedents which might 
lead to disastrous consequences; so, in the former, the utmost 
caution was necessary to begin the administration of the newly 
adopted organic laws of the Church conformably to the true 
intent and spirit of the ecclesiastical constitution. In both the 
highest qualities of mind and heart were needed. There was this 
obvious difference, however, in the charter under which they 
respectively acted. The two governments not only differ in 
their origin, nature, design, and mode of operations, but more- 
over, while the power vested in Congress is limited by specific 
grants of power to be exercised for the general welfare and the 
means necessary to execute these specific objects, the delegated 
General Conference possessed, by constitutional right, all power 
originally belonging to the whole body they represented, except 
certain clearly defined prohibitions. These prohibitions pro- 
tected the rights and privileges of the membership and ministry, 
the General Rules of the societies, the Articles of Religion, and 
the episcopal form of our general superintendency of the Church. 
Beyond these three great and vital questions, everything in the 
polity of the Church was, and is yet, under their control. 

The eyes of all who loved the Church were turned with the 
most intense solicitude to the action of the General Conference 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 159 

of 1812. The bishops were to preside alternately as joint presi- 
dents of the body; and, fortunately, they combined the highest 
confidence of the Church, both as to their purity of motives and 
their knowledge of its true interests. Bishop Asbury's integrity 
of character and sagacity inspired great confidence, while all 
the past history of Bishop McKendree marked him as equal to 
the emergency. But Bishop Asbury had heretofore exercised 
rather the prerogatives of a father than the office of a president, 
and had never been remarkable for conducting business accord- 
ing to the strict Rules of Order. Who was to inaugurate the 
new state of things demanded by the Church? Happily for the 
Church, Bishop McKendree was the man for the occasion. 

The Rev. Henry Smith, of the Baltimore Conference, pro- 
bably the oldest traveling preacher of the Methodist Church, 
in a letter to the writer, dated February 6, 1855, says upon this 

Previous to the first delegated General Conference, May 1, 1812, Bishop 
McKendree drew up a plan of business to be brought before the General 
Conference. His address was read in Conference; but as it was a new 
thing, the aged Bishop (Asbury) rose to his feet immediately after the paper 
was read, and addressed the junior bishop to the following effect: "I have 
something to say to you before the Conference." The junior also rose to 
his feet, and they stood face to face. Bishop Asbury went on to say: " This 
is a new thing. I never did business in this way, and why is this new thing 
introduced?" The junior bishop promptly replied: "You are OUT father, 
we are your sons; you never have had need of it. I am only a brother, and 
have need of it. " Bishop Asbury said no more, but sat down with a smile 
on his face. The scene is now before me. I believe the bishops have pur- 
sued the plan ever since. 

The address of Bishop McKendree was not merely a program 
of the business which legitimately devolved upon the body, but 
was designed to call the attention of the Conference to the ad- 
ministration of the bishops and to the condition and wants of 
the Church. 

Mr. Asbury had been trained in the Wesleyan school, and his 
presidency had been similar in some respects to the British 
system of holding Conferences. The sessions held under him 
had not been conducted very strictly by parliamentary rules. 
Mr. McKendree knew that a careful adherence to order is not 
only a protection to the minority and the president, but is 
essential to the dispatch of business. The "new thing" which 
surprised the elder bishop was right in itself and most proper 
as emanating from one who thus modestly disclaimed the pre- 

160 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

negatives of a father and voluntarily placed himself under the 
laws of order in exercising his office. The General Conference 
approved his course; committees were appointed to draw up 
Rules of Order and to consider the various topics of Bishop 
McKendree's address; and from that time until the present, 
the sessions of the Methodist Conferences, both Annual and 
General, have surpassed all other ecclesiastical bodies for their 
strict adherence to the established rules of debate and for the 
amount of business transacted in a given time. Indeed,it may 
well be doubted whether there is any deliberative body which 
equals a Methodist Conference in these respects. The intro- 
duction of this mode of procedure may be attributed chiefly to 
Bishop McKendree. Coke, Asbury, and Whatcoat were all 
Englishmen, and although wise, great, and good, could not 
conform their mode of administration to the American idea. 
The first native American bishop, himself a soldier and an officer 
in the war of independence, placed himself and his office in 
harmony with the feelings and sentiments of his countrymen 
by refusing to govern except according to law. He was right, 
and the Church owes him a debt of gratitude for his course. 
The following address was submitted by Bishop McKendree 
in writing: 

To the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now assembled in the city of 
New York. 

Dear Brethren: My relation to you and the connection in general seems 
in my opinion, to make it necessary that I should address you in some way 
by which you may get possession of some information perhaps not other- 
wise to be obtained by many of you. 

It is now four years since, by your appointment, it became my duty 
jointly to superintend our extensive and very important charge. With 
anxious solicitude and good wishes, I have looked forward to this General 
Conference. The appointed time has come, and the Lord has graciously 
permitted us to meet according to appointment, for which I hope we are 
prepared jointly to praise and adore his goodness. 

Upon examination, you will find that the work of the Lord is progress- 
ing in our hands. Our important charge has greatly increased since the 
last General Conference. We had an increase of upward of 40,000 members. 
At present we have upward of 2,000 local preachers, about 700 traveling 
preachers, and about 190,000 members. And these are widely scattered 
over seventeen States, besides the several territorial settlements and the 

Thus situated, it must be expected in the present state of things that the 
council and direction of your united wisdom will be necessary to preserve 
the harmony and peace of the body, as well as the cooperation of the teach- 
ing and local ministry in carrying on the blessed work of reformation which 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 161 

the Lord has been pleased to effect through our instrumentality. To 
deserve the confidence of the local ministry and membership, as well as to 
retain confidence in ourselves and in each other, is undoubtedly our duty. 
And if we consider that those who are to confide in us are a collection from 
all classes and descriptions and from all countries of which our nation is 
composed, scattered promiscuously over this vast continent, men who were 
originally of different educations, manners, habits, and opinions, we shall 
see the difficulty as well as the importance of this part of our charge. 

In order to enjoy the comforts of peace and union, we must "love one 
another." But this cannot abide where confidence does not exist; and 
purity of intention, manifested by proper actions, is the very foundation 
and support of confidence. Thus " united we stand," each member is a sup- 
port to the body and the body supports each member, but if confidence 
fail, love will grow cold, peace will be broken, and " divided we fall." It 
therefore becomes this body, which by its example is to direct the course 
of thousands of ministers and tens of thousands of members, to pay strict 
attention to the simplicity of gospel manners and to do everything as in 
the immediate presence of God. If we consider the nature of our business, 
our natural imperfections, and the history of the Church in all its attempts 
to reform the world, it is scarcely to be expected, in so large a body, that all 
will be as strictly evangelical as they should be. But it is to be hoped that 
such failures will be prevented as far as possible by both your action and 
your example. 

Standing in the relation I do to you and the connection generally, I 
feel it a part of my duty to submit to your consideration the appointment 
of the Genesee Conference. And perhaps it may be for the general good 
if in your wisdom you should think proper to take into consideration a 
division of the work in the western country, and a proper arrangement of 
the work in general; and the magnitude and extent of the work which the 
Lord has graciously pleased to prosper in our hands, may make it proper 
for you to inquire if the work is sufficiently under the oversight of the 
superintendency, and to make such arrangements and provision as your 
wisdom may approve. I would also suggest the necessity of keeping in 
view not only the traveling, but the relation and situation also of our 
local brethren, and to pursue that plan which may render the whole more 
useful. It may also be proper to bring into view any unfinished business 
of the last General Conference. Hitherto, as a body, we have been pre- 
served by our well-digested system of Rules, which are as sinews to the 
body, and form the bond of union; but it is evidence, both from experience 
and Scripture, that even good men may depart from first principles and 
from the best of rules: it may therefore be proper for you to pay some at- 
tention to the administration, to know the state both of the traveling and 
local ministry, as it relates to doctrine, dicipline, and practice. 

Before I conclude, permit me, my dear brethren, to express a few 

thoughts concerning the view I take of the relation in which I stand to 

this body. It is only by virture of a delegated power from the General 

Conference that I hold the reins of government. I consider myself bound, 


162 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

by virture of the same authority, to exercise discipline in perfect conformity 
vith the Rules of our Church, to the best of my ability. I consider myself 
justly accountable, not for the system of government, but for my admin- 
istration, and ought therefore to be ready to answer in General Conference 
for my past conduct and be willing to receive information and advice to 
perfect future operations. I wish this body to exercise their rights in 
these respects. 

I take pleasure here in presenting my grateful acknowledgments for 
the high degree of confidence which my beloved brethren have placed in 
me and especially for the able council and seasonable support afforded by 
many, which has, I believe, with the divine aid, preserved and supported 

Dear brethren, such are the effects of our high responsibility connected 
with a consciousness of my insufficiency for so high a task that I move 
with trembling. Your eyes and the eyes of the Lord are upon me for good. 
We shall rejoice together to see the armies of our Israel wisely conducted 
carrying the triumphs of the Redeemer's kingdom to the ends of the earth, 
and the Lord will rejoice to " make his ministers a flame of fire." 

In you I have confidence and on you I depend for such aid as the wis- 
dom of men can give, and, above all, I trust in divine aid. Influenced by 
these considerations, with my situation in full view, I cannot entertain a 
thought of bearing such awful responsibility longer than I am persuaded 
my services are useful to the Church of God and feel a confidence of being 
aided by your counsel and support, which is for you to give in any way or 
form you may see proper. And while I join with you, my dear brethren, 
in pure gospel simplicity to commit and recommend ourselves and our 
several charges to the special care of the great Head of the Church, I 
remain, with sentiments of love and confidence, your servant in the gospel 

NEW YORK, May 6, 1812. 

The following extract from memoranda of Bishop McKendree 
will show his wisdom in this matter: 


The president (Bishop McKendree) invited a committee of the most 
respectable and influential members of that Conference as his council. In 
doing this, he designedly left out some who were supposed to be his con- 
fidential friends and selected men of talents of different sentiments as to 
the polity of the Church. He stated to them his necessity of council on 
such occasions; complained of a distant and reserved carriage toward him, 
which he thought was improper and might be injurious; assured them he 
had no selfish ends, and then presented them with an instrument of writing 
which he had prepared as an address to the General Conference. And as 
it was a new thing among us, he asked them to consider it attentively and 
give him their opinion without reserve upon the propriety of presenting it; 
and if they 'thought an address advisable, to examine it critically, and sug- 
gest such alterations or additions as they might think proper. They ex- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 163 

amined it and reported in favor of the address. The president was pleased 
with their freedom and delicacy in suggesting an amendment, he saw the 
propriety of doing so, and it was altered on account of its having a partic- 
ular bearing. W. McK. 

Bishop Asbury had said at the opening of the Conference, 
"I hope very few rules will be made," meaning thereby to dis- 
courage too much legislation. This was wisely said. The 
Church has much to fear from this quarter, and, unfortunately, 
has suffered greatly by overlegislating. Indeed, unnecessary 
interferences with individual rights have always been disastrous 
to the peace of both Church and State. If the ends of govern- 
ment are secured, the less government is felt the better. There 
are always, however, restless spirits in every large assembly 
who are ready to lead the more timid into innovations upon 
established usages. And the Conferences of the Methodist 
Church have not proved an exception to this remark. Attempts 
had been 1 made at every General Conference since 1792 to 
change the mode of appointing the presiding elders. They had 
always been appointed by the bishops upon the principle that 
as the bishops have the general superintendence of the work 
and are held accountable, directly or indirectly, for the inter- 
pretation and administration of the Discipline of the Church, 
they should have the power to select those to whom, in their 
absence, this work is committed, thus associating them with 
the bishops in the oversight of the Church. Those who sought 
to change this system wished to make the office of presiding 
elder elective by the Annual Conferences, and that those thus 
elected should constitute the bishops' "council" in the respec- 
tive Conferences. Mr. O'Kelly had proposed the principle in- 
volved in this measure in the resolution offered by him in 1792, 
the rejection of which was the ostensible cause of his secession 
from the Church. It was proposed in 1800 to make them elec- 
tive and was lost. This question was brought distinctly before 
the General Conference of 1808, "while the constitution drafted 
by the committee was under consideration; and a motion having 
been made to lay the report of the committee upon the table, 
and by the question it was done; and the presiding elder ques- 
tion, as it was called, was taken up, argued at great length and 
with much ability, and lost by a large majority. After this the 
consideration of the constitution reported by the committee 
was resumed, and it was adopted." 

At the General Conference of 1812, the effort was renewed. 
Many strong and good men were its advocates. Among them 

164 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

were Jesse Lee, Asa Shinn, and Nicholas Snethen. Two days 
were consumed in its discussion, but the Conference refused to 
make the change. Bishops Asbury and McKendree were both 
decidedly opposed to the change. 

The South and West have always been conservative upon 
this question. 

Its defeat at this General Conference quieted the agitation 
for a short period, only to be renewed with increasing violence 
at each succeeding General Conference until 1828, when, it is 
to be hoped, it was finally laid to rest. 

Another topic which excited much interest and no little 
controversy at this Conference was the ordination of local dea- 
cons to elder's orders. Some leading members of the Confer- 
ence had always been opposed to the ordination of local preach- 
ers, yet the majority had conferred upon them eligibility to 
deacon's orders. Now that it was proposed to graduate the 
deacons to the elder's orders, the opposition was very strong. 
The strongest objection urged against the measure was that in 
view of their relation to worldly business the bishops could not 
consistently require, or the candidate conscientiously give, the 
vow to devote himself "wholly to this one thing (the pastoral 
ministry) and draw all his cares and studies this way." That 
the duties of an elder, as set forth in the ordination formulary, 
contemplated a real and active pastorate, and that to confer 
the office upon those who were known at the very time to be 
debarred both by law and their relation to secular matters from 
fulfilling its duties was not only inconsistent in itself, but would 
tend to diminish the sense of responsibility in the traveling 
ministry who should be ordained under the same vows. On 
the other side, it was said that if they were called to the ministry 
they ought to be able to perform all its functions; and that as 
the Church had already conferred upon them the inferior office, 
and especially as they might be more useful and their services 
were much needed, they should be admitted to the office. 
This view prevailed, and thenceforth the local deacons were 
eligible to elder's orders after four years' probation and upon 
their recommendation by the quarterly meeting Conference 
certifying their qualifications and that their services were needed 
in the circuits where they reside. It was also then "provided 
that no slaveholder shall be eligible to the office of local elder in 
any State or Territory where the civil law will admit eman- 
cipation or suffer the liberated slave to enjoy his freedom." 

As Bishop McKendree had in his address called the attention 
of the General Conference to the superintendency, the commit- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 165 

tee which was appointed on episcopacy having taken into con- 
sideration the propriety of increasing the number of bishops, 
reported that it was not necessary, and the report was adopted. 
Thus were these three important questions settled; and after 
a harmonious session of twenty-two days, the Conference ad- 
journed to meet in Baltimore, May 1, 1816. 

"The Episcopal Committee" requested the bishops in the 
General Conference of 1812 to give their opinions as to the 
propriety and necessity of electing another bishop; and also as 
Bishop Asbury had been invited by the British Conference to 
visit England, the Episcopal Committee wished to know if he 
contemplated doing so. His reply to these questions, in his own 
handwriting, was given to the committee, and by them to 
Bishop McKendree, as appears by the indorsement of S. G. 
Roszell. This was his answer: 

NEW YORK, May 9, 1812. 

My Dear Brethren: Whatever I may have thought or spoken in former 
times upon strengthening the episcopacy, I am not at liberty to say to you 
at this time, Do this, or that. I am bound in duty to serve the connection 
with all my power of body and mind, as long and as largely as I can; and, 
while I am persuaded that my services are needed and acceptable, to give 
up all thoughts of visits out of the American Continent, I feel myself indis- 
pensably bound to the Conference and my colleague, never to leave them 
nor forsake them upon the above conditions. F. ASBURY. 

The General Conference over, Bishop McKendree resumed 
his toilsome work with the prospect before him of increasing 
labor and diminished assistance, for Bishop Asbury was rapidly 
wearing himself down by incessant travel and anxiety. When 
Bishop McKendree first entered in 1808 upon the duties of his 
office, Bishop Asbury proposed they should both attend all the 
Conferences and preside alternately. But after a while, having 
witnessed the ability of his colleague in the chair, he seldom 
undertook to conduct the public duties of his office in presiding 
over the deliberations of the Conferences and confined himself 
generally to the task of stationing the preachers, assisting in 
ordination, and occasional addresses to the preachers. Yet his 
presence and counsel were highly appreciated by his colleague 
and the preachers generally. But his strength began to fail 
very rapidly, and he was often prostrated by fatigue and sick- 
ness. The year following the General Conference of 1812 found 
him at every Annual Conference, and for several years after- 
wards he continued to drag himself along by the force of an 
almost indomitable will, trying to perform, as heretofore, the 
duties of an itinerant general superintendent; and as nothing 

166 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

very unusual marked the history of this year's labor, it is not 
necessary to give the details of their travels. 

During the winter of 1811-12, the earthquakes occured in the 
Western Country. The whole Valley of the Mississippi was 
violently and frequently agitated, and the region of New Ma- 
drid, on the Mississippi River, seems to have been the center of 
subterranean convulsion. Fissures opened in the earth, lakes 
of considerable size and depth were formed by the sinking of the 
ground, all accompanied by a rumbling sound and violent con- 
cussions. The effect upon the river itself was such that at New 
Madrid boats were wrenched from their moorings, and sub- 
merged by the agitation of the waves. Many lives were lost. 
This state of things continued to occur at irregular intervals for 
several months, until the whole country became alarmed. In 
many instances this excitement assumed a religious aspect, and 
a widespread and glorious revival extended through the greater 
part of the Western work, insomuch that the two Conferences 
(Ohio and Tennessee) into which the Western Conference was 
divided by the General Conference, reported in the fall of 1812 
a net annual increase of more than fifty per cent; so that the 
Lord had not only "terribly shaken the earth, but had also 
mercifully shaken the hearts of the people." 

The declaration of war against Great Britain by our govern- 
ment, June 18, 1812, and the excitement naturally growing out 
of it, had an unhappy effect upon the work generally and 
especially at first in the northern and eastern sections of the 
country; and as this state of things continued until January, 
1815, the whole country became deeply excited with military 
ardor and consequently less susceptible of religious impressions. 
The following letter from Dr. Henry Wilkins, of Baltimore, 
an old and highly esteemed friend, to Bishop McKendree, may 
be interesting to the reader, not only because of the good sense 
and piety it exhibits, but also because of its allusions to the 
attack of the British upon Baltimore and the patriotism of our 
preachers and people: 

BALTIMORE, August, 11, 1813. 

Dear Brother: Your letter gave us great consolation to find you are do- 
ing so well under so many disadvantages. Afflictions try both our faith 
and our feelings; though I do not see why they should try the former, 
for we ought not to expect to be delivered by faith from the physical 
elements of the world; for faith, though so powerful against moral elements, 
has not acted against the physical since the gospel was fully established in 
the days of our Saviour and his apostles. If unbelief would rid us of afflic- 
tion, then our faith would be severely tried; but I believe, and in this you 
will join me, that religion is best both for soul and body. Since you were 
here I have had a full share of bodily infirmities. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 167 

The British are now in sight; a score of ships of war fill up the bay from 
hence to Annapolis. Kent Island is in their possession; the little city is in 
danger. We are strong. One hundred and fifty pieces of cannon environ 
our city part movable. We have about eight hundred cavalry, forty- 
five hundred infantry, two thousand expected from the country; a thou- 
sand regulars at Annapolis, who will march if wanted. I hope with this 
force no blood will be shed, the British troops being about four thousand 

All parties are wishing the British to be expelled. There is no political 
division in our Church, though great coldness and few conversions. Our 
ministers are liked very well. You do better than the market people, they 
generally couple a fat and a lean one. You have given us three smart ones 
out of four. The fourth, though of pleasing, easy manners, does not show 
industry in reading; perhaps a defective eye may give him pain, but with- 
out much reading the city will soon swallow the few ideas a man has of his 

I send you some books and the love of all our family. I trust we are 
seeking after true riches, and gain some. As to this world, while the war 
lasts I must purchase stock in the Bank of Contentment, which I believe 
is quite as good as gold. Now what shall I say but bid you go on in the 
glorious path you have set out in, and may your last days be your best 
days and eternal glory be your reward! 

Your friend, HENRY WILKINS. 

A characteristic letter from the venerable and devoted Free- 
born Garrettson was received by the Bishop at the Genesee 
Conference. It is as follows : 

RHINEBECK, June 29, 1813. 

My Very Dear Brother: I thought duty called me to go down to New 
York immediately after Conference and direct in fixing matters. [Mr. 
Garrettson was then presiding elder of New York District.] I was sorry 
to find an unwillingness to receive Brother W. in Jamaica Circuit, and 
took the liberty to agree that he and Brother Lyon should change. I 
stayed a week in the city, and stepped down to Maryland; sent a messen- 
ger round and preached in various places and had the pleasure of seeing 
and visiting many of my friends. I also had the mortification of seeing the 
savagelike depredations in Havre de Grace, I may call it the native place 
of my ancestors. [This place was burned by the British under Admiral 
Cockburn in 1813.] I thought it a good time to give them a faithful warn- 
ing, but how my heart did bleed to see so many of them living in fullness 
and unconcerned about their eternal welfare. 

I have traveled about seven hundred miles since our Conference (May 
20) and preached to thousands with pleasure and freedom. I must begin 
to preach as if every sermon were my last. In fact, I view myself as a 
tottering monument of mercy on the brink of eternity. As my dear Fath- 
er Asbury observed, I have gone in the better, though not the best way, 
the whole of my life. I have nothing to depend on for salvation but an 
interest in the meritorious righteouness of Christ. In him I have salvation. 
I spent one Sabhatb in Philadelphia. They are fond of Emory in the 

168 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Academy. I could have wept when I found the names of Cooper and 
Sargent like to drop from our Conference records. It would have given 
us pleasure to have had you and Bishop Asbury at our house. Pray for 
me. If I cannot follow foot by foot, I will try to keep hard by, and hope to 
have some humble place in our Heavenly Father's kingdom. I profess 
to love Church and State; and if I knew I had a little finger to raise against 
the order or union of either, I would cut it off. God bless you, my dear 
friend ! I feel union with your spirit . 

Yours affectionately, F. GARRETTSON. 

We find the following letter in the "Life of Bishop Emory," 
written by Bishop McKendree in reply to a note Mr. Emory 
had addressed him at the close of the Philadelphia Conference, 
1812. Mr. Emory was then a young preacher, and the letter 
is alike honorable to the writer and receiver: 

WEDNESDAY MORNING, April 29, 1812. 

Dear Brother: It is no small gratification to find you must take an 
affectionate leave of me, if it is by note. Your apology for not seeing me 
more than supplied the visit, because it was an act of favor. [The Bishop 
was quite sick and not able to bear company.] Indeed, I was weak, and 
though much better, I am far from strong now, for I tremble and have to 
rest while about this letter. 

You ask a place in my prayers. If that is a favor, you have posessed it 
ever since I saw you first. "God forbid I should sin against the Lord in 
ceasing to pray for you." Dear Johnny, permit me to tell you that you 
possess a full proportion of my confidence and affection. I shall not forget 
the tenderness and respect, as of a son to a father, with which you treated 
me; nor the Christian meekness and deep humility depicted in your man- 
ners graces which I hope you will never forfeit your title to. Jesus was 
meek and lowly of heart. There was an expression in your countenance 
that attracted my attention, but afforded no satisfactory solution. Have 
you injured or impaired your constitution by ministerial exertions? or has 
the climate of affliction reduced you? or are you subject to excessive fast- 
ing? Useful fasting is so shamefully neglected that a check on that subject 
should be ministered and received with caution. But extremes are dan- 

Your friend and brother, W. MCKENDREE. 

Bishop McKendree attended the New York Conference at 
Albany, June 4, 1812; the New England Conference at Lynn, 
Mass., June 20; the Genesee Conference at Lyons Town, 
July 23; various camp meetings in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Ken- 
tucky, and Tennessee; the Tennessee Conference at Fountain 
Head, November 10; the South Carolina Conference at Charles- 
ton, December 19; the Virginia Conference at Newbern, N. C., 
February 10, 1813; the Baltimore Conference in Baltimore, 
March 24; and the Philadelphia Conference in Philadelphia, 
April 24, 1813. 


Difficulties and comforts New York Conference New England Con- 
ference changed on account of war Tendency of selling pews Gen- 
esee Conference Ohio Steubenville Tennessee Conference Can- 
not attend Louisiana Conference T. L. Douglass Bishops Asbury 
and McKendree on slavery Blackman's position on the subject He 
goes as chaplain to volunteers at the call of General Jackson William 
Burke's letter South Carolina and Virginia Conferences "Official 
decisions' ' Buxton New York Conference Bishop Asbury's opinion 
of Bishop McKendree's sermon Joshua Marsden in United States 
He applies for employment Resigns it Why? Bishop Asbury's con- 
dition His will Why he expected to live long Painful round of Con- 
ferences in 1814 Bishop McKendree's fall : Wounding hip and ribs 
Tennessee Conference held at camp meeting in Logan County, Ky. 
Neither of the bishops can be at the Mississippi Conference Genesee 
Conference Tornado Gets to Cincinnati South Carolina Virginia 
Maryland Pennsylvania Asbury preaches Found Dr. Coke at Al- 
bany, N. Y. Ohio Conference at Mechanicsburg "Long earnest talk" 
Bishop Asbury crosses Alleghany sixty-two times Both bishops at- 
tend the Tennessee Conference Separated never to meet again on earth 
McKendree at South Carolina Conference Asbury within thirty 
miles Very feeble Hammet's people return Virginia Conference at 
Raleigh Bishop McKendree's father dies Baltimore Conference 
Bishop Asbury absent, and preaches his last sermon in Richmond, Va. 
His death Bond's letters inclosing Asbury's views and last letter to 
McKendree His person and character. 

THE years 1813, 1814, and 1815 were spent, like the previous 
five years of his life, in almost constant travel or in holding 
Conferences. He is forced to exclaim: "No rest; but little 
chance to read; always having company, and few opportunities 
of reflection, except on horseback!" But he found this state 
of things as unfriendly to piety as to peace and quietude. Hard 
rides, promiscuous crowds at taverns, a diseased body, and con- 
stant anxiety of mind in view of his responsible position chafed 
and worried him; yet, conscious of his own honesty and purity 
of purpose, he strove to know his duty and to do it without 
murmuring. Communion with God and the esteem of the 
Church were sources of comfort to his heart during many an 
hour of trial and sorrow. If his labors and afflictions abounded, 
so did his comforts. He that surrenders his own will to God 
will be satisfied to do or suffer as God wills. Happy are they 
to whom faith gives the victory over sin and self. The longest 

170 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

life is soon over, and in its best condition is still a battle; and 
not he who suffers least, but he who most bravely and wisely 
fights that battle at whatever sacrifice is the greatest victor. 

Bishop McKendree presided at the New York Conference 
held in Amenia, May 20, 1813, where some difficulties among 
the preachers were amicably adjusted through his prudent and 
conciliatory manner of conducting the matter and by the co- 
operation of Freeborn Garrettson, Daniel Hitt, and L. Clark. 
"Blessed are the peacemakers." 

"The New England Conference for this year was appointed 
to be held at New London, but an apprehended attack upon the 
place by a British squadron caused it to be removed to Col- 
chester, 1 thirteen miles distant. It commenced June 30. The 
business of Conference was done with great dispatch sitting 
eight hours a day and concluded on the fourth day." He 
adds: "It is feared that our preachers and congregations in this 
part of our work will drop off like untimely fruit. They build 
meetinghouses upon congregational principles, and the preachers, 
. when they locate, have the art of deriving the benefit. It is 
reported that they are giving in to the plan of building very 
expensive and ornamental houses; selling pews, so that it is 
made difficult for the poor to hear the gospel; and fixing the 
government in the hands of such as may become owners of 
pews; so that our itinerant preachers, as well as the poor, may 
be excluded when men of the world may choose to do so. Are 
these things so? In part, if not in whole. Has not this course 
a tendency to injure the progress of experimental religion and 
destroy the itinerant plan? It has." 

The bishops traveled in company to the Genesee Conference 
at Westmoreland, July 9, 1813, and the tour was rendered more 
than ordinarily pleasant by the "remarkably social and familiar 
manner of Bishop Asbury." Nothing unusual occurring at this 
Conference, they resumed their long journey westward. Bishop 
McKendree says: "From this Conference Bishop Asbury 
traveled more than a week with me on my appointments. His 
mind was greatly taken up with his contemplated Natchez 
Conference. He seems determined to go to it and is much en- 
gaged in planning for his journey." 

After holding the Ohio Conference at Steubenville, September 

l Bishop Hedding says it was Salem. (See his "Life," p. 229.) Bishop 
Asbury, in his Journal, says Colchester. Bishop McKendree, in his Diary, 
says: "The Conference was moved to Brother Morgan's, in Colchester." 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 171 

1, 1813, Bishop McKendree pushed on to Tennessee in order to 
spend his spare time with his aged father, who had removed 
from Virginia and settled in Sumner County, Tenn. The 
Conference was held at Reese's Chapel, in Williamson County, 
Tenn., October 1, and was a camp meeting Conference. Both 
of the bishops were present. 

The propriety of forming a new Conference in the Mississippi 
Territory, which had heretofore been included in the Tennessee 
Conference, had been submitted by the bishops to the previous 
session of this Conference, and, having been approved, Bishop 
Asbury had appointed a session to be held there. It had been 
his intention to visit it in the interval between the Tennessee 
and South Carolina Conferences. The appointment was not 
inserted in the General Minutes, and Bishop McKendree had 
doubted the expediency of setting it off under existing circum- 
stances. But it was a favorite notion with Bishop Asbury, and, 
as we have already seen, he had been laying his plans to ac- 
complish it. When, therefore, the Tennessee Conference 
opened they were reminded of their advice given to the bishops 
the preceding year, and Bishop McKendree announced his 
readiness to go and hold the Conference, if he could obtain 
company for himself and help for the new Conference. Bishop 
Asbury, though still extremely anxious to visit that section of 
the work, confessed that in view of his health, the distance, 
and his apprehension that he might not only fail to reach it, 
but put it out of his power to get to the South Carolina Con- 
ference also, he felt obliged to decline the attempt; and the 
Conference dissuaded Bishop McKendree from going, by a 
resolution "that it was imprudent to venture in the present 
state of Indian hostilities." 

At this Conference the name of Thomas Logan Douglass, a 
transfer from the Virginia Conference, first appeared at the 
Tennessee Conference. He was a native of Person County, 
N. C., had filled some of the most important appointments in 
the Virginia Conference, was an estimable gentleman, a very 
fine preacher, and a most popular and useful presiding elder. 1 

1 Thomas L. Douglas was of low stature, rotund, and inclined to cor- 
pulency. He was naturally amiable and retiring in his manners. He had 
been presiding elder several years, a member of the General Conference of 
1812, and was greatly admired for his eloquence in the city of New York 
during the session. In private, his deportment was such as to gain the 
esteem of his associates; in the pulpit, he was charming. His voice was 
remarkable for melody and compass and was perfectly under his control. 

172 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Two subjects gave the bishops much trouble at this Confer- 
ence slavery and the war. The Conference was stringent in 
the application of their rules against buying or selling slaves. 
Several local preachers had been arrested and tried; in most 
instances the quarterly meeting Conferences had refused to 
punish them. In one case, however, a local preacher was sus- 
pended and appealed to the Annual Conference. Learner 
Blackman, his presiding elder, defended him. He denied that 
the general rule applied to the case; urged the inconsistency of 
receiving and retaining members in the Church who owned 
them and of expelling those who bought them; said that the 
purchaser had made the condition of the slave much better, 
and may have been influenced by the most humane feelings, 
such as getting husbands and wives or parents and children 
together; that the Quarterly Conferences in the Nashville 
District had, in other cases, refused to enforce the construction 
put upon the law by the Conference, believing that it is no 
more a sin for preachers than for members to have them. He 
declared that great harm had already been done by this officious 
intermeddling with legal and private rights; and, finally, that 
as he could see no moral wrong in it, provided the slave be 
treated humanely, he could not and would not conform to 
their views of the rule. Bishop Asbury said nothing. Bishop 
McKendree, being in the chair, reminded him that he ought to 
keep the rule or change it. The Conference affirmed the de- 
cision of the quarterly meeting Conference. It is due, however, 
to the body to say that there was a strong minority opposed 
to such a course. 

The war was then raging between our country and England. 
The Indians on the borders were committing horrid cruelties, 
and our private members and many of our local preachers, fired 
by patriotism and a just sense of duty to their country, rushed 
as volunteers to the scenes of war. A requisition having been 
made in Tennessee for volunteers to protect Louisiana, General 
Jackson soon called out a large body, and shortly after the close 
of the Conference, Learner Blackman, having been invited and 
commissioned by the General to go with him as chaplain, left 

He was an excellent divine, had studied the economy of the Church very 
thoroughly, and was strong in his attachments to the old Methodist polity. 
He loved the Church, and the bishops loved and leaned upon him. No 
man has done more for Methodism in the Tennessee Conference than Mr. 
Douglass. The writer loved and revered him as a father; and he knows 
that Bishops Asbury and McKendree held him in the highest estimation. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 173 

his district and most faithfully and acceptably labored as a min- 
ister of God in this new and trying position. They went in 
flatboats, and his habit was to go from boat to boat and preach 
to the soldiers and visit the sick. The trip was a long one, and 
they were disbanded upon their arrival at Natchez, whence 
Brother Blackman returned forthwith to Tennessee and resumed 
the duties of his district. This propensity among the traveling 
preachers to quit their regular work and enter the army gave 
the bishops much trouble, believing that the regular ministration 
of the gospel is their proper employment and that if this should 
be neglected the cause of God must suffer seriously. In their 
opinion, both patriotism and religion required the traveling 
ministry to adhere to their appropriate work. 

The following letter from an early pioneer preacher in the 
West, worn down by labor, possesses a melancholy interest. 
It was written to the Ohio Conference through Bishop Mc- 

CINCINNATI, August 24, 1813. 

Dear Brother: I have served in the traveling connection two and twenty 
years, and, in my weak and feeble way, have devoted my whole time and 
what few talents I haVe had to the service of the Church. I have filled 
some of the hardest and most dangerous stations on the frontiers of Vir- 
ginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. I have missed attending but two Annual 
Conferences the first at Ebenezer, Tenn., 1801, and the present, 1813. 
I have served in four General Conferences, and can appeal to Him that 
searcheth all hearts that, to the best of my knowledge, I have acted from 
pure motives and with no other design than to promote the cause of God 
and Methodism, which I have always regarded as identical. I can appeal 
to my brethren, who have been associated with me that I have not 
idled away my time in visiting either friends or relatives. I have visited 
my parents but once and was then only three weeks with them. In the 
seventeen years I have been married, I have never taken time to go with 
my wife to visit her friends and relatives. I have spent neither time nor 
money in acquiring property, having always considered it beneath the 
dignity of the office I was called to fill and contrary to the rules and reg- 
ulations of the traveling ministry. As to this world's goods, I have com- 
paratively nothing. I am still free from every encumbrance of a worldly 
nature. During the time I have labored with you, I have conscientiously 
devoted my whole time to the work and have avoided every needless ex- 
pense. I have reason to bless God that I am what I am it is of his un- 
merited grace. I love God, his people, and his cause. 

I have labored for several years under great affliction of mind. Several 
times I have determined to ask for a location. I am not well. Upon the 
slightest change of weather I am greatly afflicted with a complaint of my 
thorax, so that sometimes I almost lose my speech. Through the summer 
I have a thought of locating, but my friends, and my wife especially. 

174 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

discourage this. Something, too, within me forbids it when I think of 
retiring from the work which I love as I do my life. If my brethren can 
give me a supernumerary relation, I shall consider myself under obligations 
to them; but if not, please grant me a location. 

May the God of all grace preside over your councils. 

Your brother, W. BURKE. 

In a private note to Bishop McKendree, he insists that a 
stationed preacher should be sent to Cincinnati the next year; 
that it must not be put back in the circuit; says they have seven 
classes and two hundred members; paid his allowance the past 
year without his having said a word to them about it, and sug- 
gests that Brother Lambdin would suit the people very well. 
He concludes: "And now, my dear brother, perhaps I may see 
you no more. When you left this Conference, I lost a valued 
friend, such a one, perhaps, I shall never find again; but 
friendship shatt live beyond the grave." 

These old friends and fellow laborers have doubtless met and 
feel no regrets at having toiled long and suffered much in their 
Master's vineyard. Now their rest and reward are eternal. 

At the South Carolina Conference, in Charleston, December 
23, 1812, he says: "The Conference kindly invited me to take 
one of their body to travel with me at their expense." The 
generous offer was gratefully accepted, and James Norton was 
recommended and chosen; and having traveled with the bishops 
twelve months, returned with them to the ensuing Conference. 

At the Virginia Conference, the bishops were by vote re- 
quested to give an official decision of the question: "Whether a 
presiding elder could lawfully preside over a committee sitting 
upon the trial of a local preacher." His reply was, "He can, 
and sometimes he ought to do so"; but intimated that it is 
usually best not to do so. Bishop Asbury, not being in the 
chair, but present, said nothing. The Conference did not 

Here, too, "Brother Buxton, having objected to the recom- 
mendation of certain local preachers for ordination because the 
Quarterly Conference which presented them was composed of 
very few members, and having moved that the Conference de- 
termine what proportion of the official members of a circuit 
shall constitute a Conference," the president decided the motion 
to be out of order, because it would operate against the rule of 
the General Conference. 

At the New York Conference for 1813, Bishop Asbury's 
Journal says: 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 175 

"Sunday, 23. Bishop McKendree preached. It appeared 
to me as if a ray of divine glory rested on him. His subject was : 
'Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall 
offend them/ The appearance, manner, and preaching of 
Brother McKendree produced a powerful effect on Joshua 
Marsden, a British missionary, who has been present at our 

The name of Mr. Marsden, since so generally and favorably 
known as a distinguished and useful Wesleyan minister in 
England, recalls the following facts. This excellent man had 
been laboring in Bermuda, West Indies, as a missionary for 
some years. Having obtained leave to return to England, his 
wife and family had come to New York to visit her parents 
and await his arrival, but having been detained longer than he 
expected, when he reached the United States the embargo law 
was in force, the war spirit was very rife, and he could not con- 
veniently or safely get back home. Under these circumstances, 
he attended the New York Conference, and, as appears from 
his letters now before the writer, applied to the bishops for 
employment while he should be detained here. The bishops 
complied with his request, but he was so harassed and persecuted 
by political and ecclesiastical zealots that he felt it his duty to 
resign the work temporarily assigned him. His letter to the 
bishops evinced his intelligence, prudence, and piety. 

"No cure for old age" was verified in the case of Bishop As- 
bury. If indomitable zeal, courage, will, the utmost temper- 
ance, and kindest attention of physicians and friends could have 
preserved his energies, he would have defied decline. But he 
was now approaching his seventieth year, and the long battle 
of life was nearly over. If he had gone by short and easy stages 
to the more accessible Conferences, rested when weary and worn 
down by travel and disease, and been contented to suffer his 
younger colleague to hold the more distant Conferences alone, 
he might, by divine blessing, have lingered a few more years. 
Hosts of friends opened their doors to him and urged him to 
rest himself and recover his declining health. Rheumatism 
attacked his feet and limbs. For many weeks, and in midwinter 
too, he could not wear a shoe. Sometimes he had to resort to 
crutches, was frequently unable to get into his humble carriage 
without help, and often had to preach in a sitting posture. 
The pains in his jaws and face were sometimes excruciating, 
his viscera were disordered, he lost weight constantly, his ex- 
tremities were swollen, and his skin was so shriveled and his 

176 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

face so pallid that when his eyes were closed he looked like a 
corpse. And yet he scorned to rest. After a few hours of fitful 
sleep he would be up, and the early dawn of a cold, blustering, 
wintry morning would find him on his way to a distant Confer- 
ence. If roots and ruts, rocks and mud holes were too severe 
upon him, and he had to groan, "My bones, my bonesf" his 
faithful nurse would place him on horseback until he could 
endure the fatigue of that mode of traveling no longer. Then, 
after a little rest at the first house on the roadside, always 
closing the interview with prayer and exhortation, he would 
resume his route. He felt that he ought to be at every Confer- 
ence. And duty was law with him. He was a soldier acting 
under orders from a Captain who never spared himself, and how 
could the faithful soldier take repose on a battle field, where 
prizes more precious than diadems were to be won or lost? 
The Church, the preachers, and the souls of the people these 
were the thoughts that nerved him to go. It was vain to reason 
with him. Christ had called and chosen him to be a soldier, and 
his "heart and mind and strength" he had long since conse- 
crated to him. 

That there was nothing of wild enthusiasm in the mind 
of Bishop Asbury, but a fervid, intelligent, and apostolic zeal 
like that which actuated apostles and martyrs is evident. His 
Journal shows that he was fully aware of his condition. Hence, 
with characteristic brevity and disinterestedness, he says, in 
June, 1813: "I have made my will, appointing Bishop Mc- 
Kendree, Daniel Hitt, and Henry Boehm, my executors. If I 
do not in the meantime spend it, I shall leave, when I die, an 
estate of two thousand dollars, I believe. I give it all to the 
Book Concern. This money, and somewhat more, I have in- 
herited from dear departed Methodist friends in the State of 
Maryland who died childless, besides some legacies which I 
have never taken. Let all return arid continue to aid the cause of 

In August, he adds: "I addressed a 'valedictory' statement of 
my opinions to Bishop McKendree on the primitive Church 
government and ordination. I shall leave it with my papers." 
The writer having found this very interesting document among 
the papers of Bishop McKendree, takes great pleasure in giving 
it publication. It seems to have been prepared with great care 
and was left ready for the press. That it may not be divided, it 
is reserved for the next chapter. 

Many years ago the writer heard Thomas L. Douglass say 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 177 

that he was much impressed by the remark of Bishop Asbury 
that "he expected to live to be an old man, because the divine 
promise to them who honor their father and mother applied to 
him." And the evidence is before the writer that he was in 
the habit of remitting annually to his widowed mother in Eng- 
land while she lived all he could possibly spare. Surely "he 
inherited the promise." 

The next round of Conference visitation was an unusually 
painful one to both the bishops to Bishop Asbury, on account 
of his increasing infirmities; and to Bishop McKendree, because 
of a fall from his horse, which "severely wounded him in his 
hip and ribs." 1 This fall prevented him from presiding at the 
Ohio Conference, and Bishop Asbury, although present, was 
too feeble to attempt it. Nor did Bishop McKendree recover 
entirely from the effects of this accident for several months; 
for at the Tennessee Conference, held at a camp meeting in 
Logan County, Ky., in 1814, Bishop Asbury says: "The injury 
received by Bishop McKendree was so great that it is yet doubt- 
ful whether he will so far recover as to be present at the South 
Carolina Conference." Bishop Asbury felt constrained to 
give up the attempt to visit the Mississippi Conference, lest 
neither of them should reach the South Carolina Conference. 

"Onward!" however, was the watchword of these holy and 
laborious men. The horrors of an Indian war induced them to 
avoid the Indian Nation by a circuitous route, through the up- 
per part of North Carolina into South Carolina, into Georgia, 

bishop McKendree's Journal shows that he attended the Genesee Con- 
ference, at Genoa, July 14, 1814; and that Bishop Asbury was absent, on 
account of illness; that in passing from Genoa, N. Y., to Ohio, on 
July 29, his "horse started suddenly, and threw him with great violence 
among the rocks, so that his right hip and side suffered considerable injury. 
That no bones were broken, is wonderful." He adds: "July SO. I was 
taken in a wagon and carried twelve miles, to my good friend Thomas Wes- 
ton's. But the roads were rough, and I suffered much." Then follows an 
account of five deliberate attempts to draw blood from him, failing, finally, 
owing to the dullness of the old lancet. After confinement to his bed for 
several days, then using crutches awhile, he attempted to go forward on 
his journey; but, after accomplishing one-fourth of a mile, he was glad to 
return. The people, however, came to his place of confinement, and he 
preached and held class meeting. After nearly a month's detention, he 
started to overtake his appointments. 

August 25. He gives an account of a tornado which overtook him on 
the Alleghany Mountain, when limbs and trees fell all around him. Push- 
ing forward, he got to Cincinnati about the time the Conference adjourned. 

178 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

thence to Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, 
to the New York Conference, at Albany, May, 1815, where 
Bishop Asbury preached the funeral sermon of Dr. Coke. 
He says of himself: "Poor, wheezing, groaning, coughing 
Francis visited the Conference chamber on Tuesday and Thurs- 
day." At the New England Conference, June 1: "At Unity 
poor Francis was shut up alone, as at Albany." 1 From New 
Hampshire, .back he travels through New York, Pennsylavnia 
tried to preach at Little York, but wanted strength thence 
again across the mountains into Ohio, turning aside to attend a 
camp meeting at Mechancisburg; thence to the Ohio Confer- 
ence, at Lebanon, September 14, 1815. 

About this period, that "long and earnest talk" occurred 
between our two bishops "about the affairs of the Church and 
the future prospects," etc.: "The western part would be the 
glory of America would have five Conferences," etc. Yes, 
venerable men, in less than half a century from that date, it 
will have more than ten times five Conferences! The Southern 
division has now thirty Conferences, and it is presumed the 
Northern has as many or more; and "still they come." At the 
conclusion of that talk, Bishop Asbury said to his colleague 
that, "having passed his seventieth year, he found himself 
unable to keep up with the Conferences." A most reluctant 
admission. Still on he went, through Kentucky to the Tennessee 
Conference at Bethlehem, Wilson County, October 20, 1815. 
Here he preached, but says: "My eyes fail: I will resign the 
stations to Bishop McKendree." Heretofore, if he did little 
else at Conference, he always attended to stationing the preach- 
ers. He knew them all, and knew their fields of labor, and they 
had the highest confidence in his impartiality and skill in adapt- 
ing the workmen to the work. But now he resigns this almost 
last effort at active usefulness. He was now exceedingly 
emaciated. Consumption seemed to have united with asthma, 
rheumatism, and gravel to hasten his exit. Yet the brave old 
pilgrim must needs follow up the Conferences, and crossed the 
Alleghanies, about the sixty-second time, to reach the South 
Carolina Conference. Bishop McKendree's Journal states: 

"Bishop Asbury attended the Tennessee Conference in the 
fall of 1815, which was the last time I was blessed with his per- 
sonal presence. Here we parted, in hope of meeting again at 
the South Carolina Conference, in Charleston. For the ad- 

1 See Bishop Asbury's letter, June 10, 1815. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 179 

vantage of accommodations and a better road, he went by 
Knoxville and I went through the Cherokee Nation. Bishop 
Asbury came within thirty or forty miles, but could not reach 
the Conference on account of affliction. Here all the remaining 
members of Mr. Hammet's Church, consisting of a few whites 
and a considerable number of colored people, returned to our 
Church, a thing much desired by Mr. Asbury, particularly on 
account of the colored people, to whom he had acted as a 
father for several years. 

"The Conference kept up a daily communication with Mr. 
Asbury, and he rejoiced at the success of his long-continued 
kindness to those solitary and afflicted people. 

"At the close of the Conference he was better, and, as my 
arrangements did not permit me to visit him, I pursued my 
appointments, hoping to see him at the Virginia Conference; 
but in this I was sadly disappointed, and learned, by the result, 
that our interview at the Tennessee Conference closed our joint 
labors and earthly associations. 

"Previously to the Tennessee Conference, Bishop Asbury 
was with me, at my father's in the Fountain Head settlement. 
While we were there my father took his bed, complaining of 
nothing but extreme debility. In this situation he remained 
about two weeks, and died in peace. 

"I arrived at Raleigh, N. C., in time for the Virginia Con- 
ference, much exhausted by traveling and preaching. Here I 
received an account of the death of my father and that Bishop 
Asbury's state of health would not admit of his getting to 
Conference. In addition to these afflictions, the work of an 
important Conference devolved on me alone; but I was gra- 
ciously sustained and much assisted by an affectionate and 
very kind body of preachers. The Conference over, I pursued 
my appointments, still hoping to meet with Bishop Asbury at 
the Baltimore Conference. 

"The preachers met at the appointed time, and understood 
the Bishop's health was very bad. My health was delicate, 
but I was mercifully supported. The preachers felt for me and 
rendered me all the aid they could. Their sympathy was a 
comfort to me." 

The following letter from John Wesley Bond, the beloved 
and faithful traveling companion of Bishop Asbury, inclosing 
one from Bishop Asbury to Bishop McKendree, perhaps the 
last he ever wrote, will be read with interest, because it evinces 
the ruling passion of the dying Bishop, his love of souls, and 

180 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

anxiety for the Church. It was written about a month before 
his death, while he was trying, "in age and feebleness extreme," 
to reach the General Conference at Baltimore. In the midst of 
his deep and complicated afflictions, although so utterly worn 
down that he alone thought he could travel and his best friends 
thought each day's short journey must be his last, this 
heroic man still struggled forward, and with characteristic dis- 
interestedness employed his thoughts about preachers and mis- 
sions and the General Conference. Noble old man! a martyr's 
zeal and reward are thine. 

LOUISBURG, N. C., February 29, 1816. 

Bishop McKendree Dear Brother: Not knowing where a letter would 
overtake you short of Georgetown, I have deferred writing until now that 
my letter may give you the latest intelligence. 

It would be a great gratification to me if we could get on to the Balti- 
more Conference; nevertheless, I have constantly opposed making the at- 
tempt, well knowing that Father Asbury's health would not admit of it. 
He is a little better than when I wrote last, but still very feeble. Last Sab- 
bath, for the first time this year, he spoke to the society at Brother King's, 
in Raleigh. He spoke for some time and with more strength than I expect- 
ed. Brother Hinds's quarterly meeting commenced in Raleigh on Satur- 
day last. Brother Hinds attended, but, having the fever and ague, was 
unable to preach. Notwithstanding my frequent loss of sleep, my health 
is nearly as usual, for which I cannot be sufficiently thankful. 

Respecting my next year's appointment, I need say nothing more than 
this: if I am judged worthy, I am still willing to take my present or any 
other work which may be thought best. As to my pecuniary demands 
upon Conference, I have none, Father Asbury has insisted on bearing 
these himself. My expenses he has borne hitherto, and he has paid my 
quarterage for the first three quarters, the other he will pay when due. 

Your affectionate, though younger and unworthy, brother in the gospel, 

J. W. BOND. 

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, VA., March 4, 1816. 

P. S. Not having had an opportunity of sending my letter before now, 
I open it to inform you that respecting the missions, 1 Father Asbury finds 
his heart much set on them. He says he will hazard an opinion that you 
may find in the Schuylkill District alone not less than one hundred vacant 
or broken congregations, and that the ministers they have, whether reg- 
ular or irregular, he believes are just such as the devil would have them to 
be. The object, then, is sufficient to claim attention: the main object is to 
get men. He thinks Brothers Folks, Fechbye, and Swaewalder ought to 

'Referring, we suppose, to the German population, to.whom Bishop Asbury wished missiona- 
ries should be sent. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree i8i 

volunteer; but if we cannot get missionaries in the traveling connection, 
we must get them out of the local. The work is important, the expense 
considerable; it will not do to be taken up and put down lightly. The 
printing of so many hymn books and Disciplines, together with the sup- 
port of so many missionaries, will require a fund of four or five thousand 
dollars; but this will be but like lending it to the missions, for when so- 
cieties are formed, they will pay it back. In the meantime they must be 
supported at the outset. He wishes the missionaries to make collections 
and try to get a living where they labor, always accountable, as every 
traveling preacher is, to his presiding elder and the Conference for what 
he receives. All the preachers he desires to exert themselves to make col- 
lections for the missionaries; and he thinks the mile subscriptions, properly 
attended to, will be competent to make up all missionary deficiencies. He 
wants the Conference to say what they shall be allowed for quarterage and 
board. He suggests about $260 to the married and $120 to the unmarried 
men, and they should have prompt pay. 

Father Asbury thinks there are half a million of Germans in our country, 
the poorest and richest of any people among us; and that thousands of 
Africans among us enjoy the advantages of the gospel means in a much 
greater degree than they do. J. W. BOND. 

Here follows the last letter of Bishop Asbury, inclosed, as 
stated above, to Bishop McKendree. It is suggestive as to the 
appointments in the Baltimore and Philadelphia Conferences 
and is in the abrupt style of the senior bishop: 

My Dear Son: Were it proper and possible, I should greatly enjoy to 
be near thee and the Conferences, but perhaps I should weary myself, as 
I have done, and hinder more than help you. 

1. If I may say anything of the stations: does Joseph Frye hold his zeal? 
If so, there is no man more fit to preside in the Monongahela District. 

2. If we take up Germans missions, it must be spiritedly. I wish we had 
four men who would offer freely, and serve faithfully, married or single; 
our hymn book translated; a thousand copies of Discipline, correct from 
the General Conference. If they will not sell, give them away to the peo- 
ple. Send a missionary to Schuylkill District, Susquehanna, Carlisle, 
and Monongahela presiding elders holding cash to pay the missionaries 
quarterly the missionaries making collections and being accountable 
for these also to the Conferences. 

I wish the change of Boehm and Roberts, 1 because of Henry's usefulness 
in German. 

We have covered the three hundred dollars to Virginia Conference. If ei- 
ther Baltimore or Philadelphia is deficient one or two hundred we are ready. 

Had I power to be present, the stewards would have a correct account 
of all we have received at Conferences and expended upon road expenses. 

'Robert R. Roberts was then presiding elder of Schuylkill District, and Henry Boehm of 
Chesapeake District. He suggest a change of districts between these men. The former waa 
made bishop in about a month. 

182 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

In 1816 I asked thirty dollars, they sent forty. The incredible toil of Wes- 
ley Bond is only known to me; I must reward him. His character is good; 
he has attempted to moderate his sermons; preaches to acceptance, gen- 
erally beloved by the preachers and the people. 

I have written to the General Conference; wish you to see it. I have 
written to Mr. Benson, 1 and wish the General Conference to hear a copy 
of the letter read. 

In great love, F. ASBURY. 

At the close of the Baltimore Conference, Bishop McKendree 
started for the Philadelphia Conference in company with his 
old friend, Rev. Nelson Reed, but, after one day's journey, he 
was violently attacked with rheumatism. The disease having 
apparently abated after a week, he tried to proceed, but the 
first day's travel brought on another attack, and, finding it 
impossible to go forward, he submitted to necessity, and was 
after a while taken to the house of his old friend, Dr. Wilkins, 
of Baltimore. Here he stayed until May 2, when the General 
Conference began in Baltimore. 

While Bishop McKendree was confined to his bed, between 
Baltimore and Philadelphia, he received intelligence of the 
death of his venerated and beloved colleague. After a partial 
recovery from his attack near Charleston, S. C., Bishop Asbury 
came by easy stages to Richmond, Va. There (March 24) he 
preached his last sermon. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 
he traveled, being very intent on getting to the General Con- 
ference. He got to the house of his old friend, Mr. George 
Arnold on Friday night, about twenty miles south of Freder- 
icksburg, Va. Rain prevented his traveling on Saturday, and 
on Sunday he died. 

It need scarcely be said that Bishop Asbury's death was con- 
sistent with his life. "I die daily; I live in God," had been his 
motto. On Saturday afternoon, hearing his faithful and never- 
to-be-forgotten nurse, John Wesley Bond, talking with the 
family about having preaching next day, he said: "You need 
not be in haste." This excited their apprehensions, for they 
do not seem to have anticipated he would die then. Through 
the ensuing night he grew worse, but refused to have a physician, 
saying the doctor could only pronounce him dead. Being 
asked if he had anything to communicate, he replied that having 
fully expressed his mind in relation to the Church, in his address 
to the Bishop and the General Conference, he had nothing more 

iThis was in answer to a letter from the British Conference, inviting him 
to visit England. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 183 

to add. About eleven o'clock on Sabbath morning he called on 
Brother Bond to sing, pray, and expound the twenty-first 
chapter of Revelation, and appeared calm and devout during 
these exercises. When he could no longer swallow or speak, 
seeing the distress of his friends, he looked joyfully at Brother 
Bond and raised his hand. When asked if he then felt the 
victory complete, exerting all his remaining strength, he raised 
both his hands, and in a few minutes died without a struggle 
or a groan, as a weary child sinks to sleep upon its mother's 
breast. He died on March 31, 1816. 

Thus closed the earthly career of a man who had spent fifty- 
five years in the ministry ten in Great Britain and forty-five 
in America thirty- two of them as an itinerant bishop; a man 
who had traveled in the United States more miles, preached 
more sermons, endured more hardships, and had borne heavier 
responsibilities than any other minister in America, before or 
since his time; a man of astonishing sagacity, and whose life 
was "without spot, blemish, or any such thing." He was a 
wise, good, and great man; and Methodism in America is more 
indebted to him than to any other man. Whether viewed as 
a man, a Christian, a preacher, or a bishop, in every respect he 
seems to have been as nearly perfect as frail humanity can well 
be on earth. But we are not writing his biography, and his 
life is his eulogy. 

What Moses was to the Church in the wilderness, as its leader 
and counselor, Asbury was to American Methodism. In meek- 
ness he declined the honors of the episcopacy tendered him by 
Mr. Wesley until urged to it by the unanimous voice of his 
brethren. God endued him with wisdom to organize and rule 
the infant Church; for nearly forty years he was its unquestioned 
earthly head. But, unlike Moses, he lived to lead the tribes of 
our Israel out of the wilderness and to see them settled in peace 
and prosperity over a vast continent. The Jews had but one 
Moses and American Methodism but one Asbury. Surely 
"a prince and a great man in Israel" died when he passed 
away. 1 

1 A. description of Bishop Asbury's person, as he appeared in the first 
Conference held in New England, in 1792, and the delineation of his 
character, by Dr. Stevens, in his " Memorials of Methodism," are so 
beautiful and true that we cannot resist the inclination to quote them: 

" He was yet short of fifty years of age and in the maturity of his physi- 
cal and intellectual strength. His person was slight, but vigorous and 
erect; his eye, stern but bright. His brow began to show those wrinkles 

184 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

(the effects of extraordinary cares and fatigues) which afterwards formed 
so marked a feature of his strongly characteristic face. His countenance 
was expressive of decision, energy, sagacity, benignity, and was shaded at 
times by an aspect of deep anxiety, if not depression. His attitude was 
dignified and graceful; his voice, sonorous and commanding. His parallel 
for practical sense and practical energy can scarcely be found. As a ruler 
of State or a commander of armies, he would have ranked among the great- 
est men of history. We will venture the remark, in all deliberation, that 
if ever an impartial ecclesiastical history of this nation be written, Francis 
Asbury, as well for his personal character as for being the chief founder of 
its largest religious organization, will occupy a position in it above the 
competition of any other name whatsoever. During about fifty years it 
is estimated that besides innumerable public exhortations he preached 
upon an average about one sermon a day. He exceeded even Wesley in his 
travels, averaging more than six thousand miles a year. The extent of his 
journeys during his ministry of forty-five years in the Uuited States alone 
was equal, upon an average, to the circumference ol the globe every four 
years, and this by private conveyance, over the worst roads, in the infancy 
of the nation. During the last thirty-two years of this life, he presided in 
two hundred and thirty-four Annual Conferences and ordained about four 
thousand persons in the traveling or local ministry. ' When he commenced 
his labors in this country, there were about six hundred members; when 
he fell, it was victoriously at the head of two hundred and twelve thousand.'" 


Bishop Asbury's Valedictory His Birth Death Burial Remains re- 
moved to Baltimore. 

THE following is the "Address to the Bishop," referred to in 
Bishop Asbury's dying words. As Paul in prison addresses 
Timothy, so the senior addresses his junior in this epistle. It 
is the result of his mature reflection after much study and long 
observation. Some things, especially toward the beginning, 
which refer merely to the mode of carrying out his plan, he 
might have modified had he foreseen the future, but as a whole 
it needs neither apology nor explanation. It was evidently 
designed for the press, and after having been most carefully 
and in a most scholarly manner prepared was subscribed by his 
own hand. It is given verbatim et literatim: 



Speaking to the Genesee Annual Conference in your presence on the 
subject of apostolical, missionary, Methodist Episcopal Church govern- 
ment, I was desired to commit my thoughts to writing. I feel the more 
disposed to do this, that I may leave a written testimony which may be 
seen, read, and known when your friend and father is taken from the evil 
to come. 

Sir: My advice is that there be only three effective bishops, as from 
the beginning, traveling through the whole continent, each one to preside 
alternately in all the Annual Conferences, one to preside during the sitting of 
the same Conference, the other two to have charge of and plan the stations 
and perform ordinations, assisted by the elders in both branches. The 
plan of stations should be submitted to the President of the Conferences, in 
triune order, to give a final decision before it is read out. I wish to warn 
you against the growing evil of locality in bishops, elders, preachers, or 
Conferences. Locality is essential to cities and towns, but traveling is as 
essential to the country. Were I to name cities, such as Jerusalem, Antioch, 
and Rome, with all the great cities, both ancient and modern, what havoc 
have these made in the Churches! Alas for us! out of seven hundred trav- 
eling preachers, we have about one hundred located in towns and cities and 
small rich circuits. Guard particularly against two orders of preachers: 
the one for the country, the other for the cities; the latter generally settle 
themselves to purchase ministers, and too often men of gifts and learning 
intend to set themselves to sale. 

186 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

I am bold to say that the apostolic order of things was lost in the first 
century, when Church governments were adulterated and had much cor- 
ruption attached to them. At the Reformation, the reformers only beat 
off a part of the rubbish, which put a stop to the rapid increase of absurd- 
ities at that time; but how they have increased since! Recollect the state 
of the different Churches, as it respects government and dicipline, in the 
seventeenth century when the Lord raised up that great and good man, 
John Wesley, who formed an evangelical society in England. In 1784, an 
apostolical form of Church government was formed in the United States 
of America at the first General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church held at Baltimore, in the State of Maryland. 

You know, my brother, that the present ministerial cant is that we can- 
not now, as in former apostolical days, have such doctrines, such dicipline, 
such convictions, such conversions, such witnesses of santification, and 
such holy men. But I say that we can; I say we must; yea, I say we have. 
And can men claim the rights and privileges of apostles if they are im- 
posters and not true ministers of the holy sanctuary? Instead of going to 
preach, they stay to preach. Hence it is that schools, colleges, and uni- 
versities undertake to make men ministers that the Lord Jesus Christ 
never commanded to be made. The present Episcopal Churches are 
greatly independent of each other. All the numerous orders of Presby- 
terians, Independents, and Baptists are also local. If we wish to see pure 
and unadulterated Church history, let us go to the Acts of the Apostles 
and mark the characters of those ministers in the time of persecution 
such as Paul, Timothy, Titus, Tychicus, Archippus, Trophimus, Artemas, 
Luke, Epaphroditus, etc. men who did honor to themselves as ministers 
of Christ. But there are too many the opposite of these, whom we can view 
in no other light, at present, than as men going into the ministry by their 
learning, sent by their parents or moved by pride, the love of ease, money, 
or honor. Are not such moved by Satan more than by the Holy Ghost to 
assume the sacred office of the holy ministry? Mark well what a situation 
the apostles were in. If unfaithful in the discharge of their duty, God 
would condemn and punish them the most severely. On the other hand, 
the people were ready to starve, stone, or beat them to death. Modern 
priests will please the people, that they may not be starved or beaten; but 
will not God condemn such teachers to everlasting destruction? We lay 
no claim to the Latin, Greek, English, Lutheran, Swedish, or Protestant 
Episcopal Church order. It will be seen that we are so unlike them that 
we could not stand as related to them. Would their bishops ride five or 
six thousand miles in nine months for eighty dollars a year, with their trav- 
eling expense less or more, preach daily when opportunity serves, meet a 
number of camp meetings in the year, make arrangements for stationing 
seven hundred preachers, ordain a hundred more annually, ride through 
all kinds of weather, and along roads in the worst state, at our time of life 
the one sixty-nine, the other in his fifty-sixth year? 

When the Methodist preachers came first to this country, one-half of the 
continent was overspread with different names and orders of Presbyterians, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 187 

Independents, Baptists, English, French, German, Holland, Scotch, and 
Irish, with many Quakers. In the Southern part were Episcopalians. 
They had but few Churches and no bishops. At this time the Methodists 
were, among others, not organized and had not the ordinances among 
us. As some in pleasantry said: "We were a Church, and no Church." 
In some places we communed with the Episcopalians. In 1779, some of 
our brethren in Virginia attempted to organize themselves into a Church; 
but in 1780, the writer of this address visited them, when they agreed to 
suspend their administration, and with united voice call upon Mr. Wesley 
to make some provision for them. Accordingly, in 1784, our faithful fa- 
ther, Mr. Wesley, ordained Thomas Coke, bishop, or general superintencj,- 
ent, and Francis Asbury was elected by the General Conference held in 
Baltimore, Md., December, 1784, general superintendent; was first or- 
dained deacon and elder; on December 27, bishop, or general superintend- 
ent; Richard Whatcoat in May, 1800; and William McKendree in May, 
1808. Dr. Coke was ordained deacon and elder by two scriptural English 
bishops, and so was John Wesley. Do any ancient or modern Churches 
stand any better ground than we do with respect to ordination, with John 
Wesley's apostolic right? Probably Paul was ordained with Barnabas. 
(Acts xiii. 1-3.) 

Should any ask why we did not seek ordination from other Churches, 
we answer them by asking if we should go to local men to be ordained trav- 
eling bishops. Should we go to Presbyterians to be ordained Episcopal 
Methodists? or to Episcopalians, who at that time had no bishop or power 
of ordination in the United States till application was made to the British 
Parliament, and that legislative body passed a law for the express purpose 
authorizing their bishops to consecrate and ordain bishops for the thirteen 
States of America, in 1785? Here let it be observed, that the Methodist 
was the first Church organized after the establishment of peace in 1783, 
and that the Protestant Episcopalians were not organized as a Church 
until after there was a law passed by the British Parliament. Or could 
we subscribe to Calvinian articles? Surely, no. Or could we submit to 
locality? By no means. Let local men ordain local men, baptize or rebap- 
tize local men; we must shape our course otherwise and prepare to meet 
the different Annual Conferences from Maine to Georgia and the Mis- 
sissippi, and to retain all the ancient essential branches of Methodism in 
all its parts and try sacredly to maintain our traveling plan and support 
a true missionary, apostolic Church. And suppose this excellent consti- 
tution and order of things should be broken, what shall the present or 
future bishops do? Let them do as your noble countryman 1 did resign 
and retire to private life. 

It is a serious thing for a bishop to be stripped of any constitutional 
rights chartered to him at his ordination, without which he could not and 
would not have entered into that sacred office, he being conscious at the 
same time he had never violated those sacred rights. Comparing human 
Church history with the Acts of the Apostles, it will manifestly appear 

'George Washington. 

18S Life and Times of Bishop McRendree 

that the apostolic order of things ended in about fifty years. With the 
preachers and people of that day, the golden order was lost. But we must 
restore and retain primitive order; we must, we will, have the same doc- 
trine, the same spirituality, the same power in ordinances, in ordination, 
and in spirit. 

Joseph Pilmoor had been but a short time on his mission to this country 
before he saw that it would not be proper for the Methodists to continue 
an Episcopal society. He was for forming an independent Church of 
England. Mr. Wesley was called for near twelve or thirteen years, repeat- 
edly, to do something for his people in America. Dr. Whitehead reproached 
Mr. Wesley, in writing his "Life," for odaining preachers in America, 
unless he had the voice of preachers and people in America; yet, if my 
memory serves me right, the Doctor grants Mr. Wesley's right so to do if 
he had had their voice; and this he most assuredly had, and it had been 
communicated to him by word and letter; or why did every heart leap with 
joy and the members of society and the congregations in America embrace 
our Church form and order and by thousands giving up themselves to the 
ordinances and presenting their children for baptism for nearly thirty 
years last past? 

You have often heard me say that Church governments changed with 
the Church into strange, incredible forms as monarchy, aristocracy, 
democracy, and legal establishments when scholars, lawyers, doctors, 
and peers became bishops and bishops became kings, temporal princes, 
and peers, and presbyters became assemblymen and senators; in this 
country they become chapains to Congress; yes, members of Congress! It 
will come to this conclusion, that ours is the apostolic plan. But say you, 
Are all apostles? Are all that we have ordained holy men? They might 
have been. Were Judas, Simon Magnus, and Demas faithful unto death? 
Ministers may fall from grace and office; and no wonder if we, on ordaining 
four thousand local and nearly two thousand traveling, preachers, should 
find some to turn out apostates. 

Thus I have traced regular order and succession in John Wesley, Thomas 
Coke, Francis Asbury, Richard Whatcoat, and William McKendree. Let 
any other Church trace its succession as direct and as pure, if they can. 
Does any one doubt the experience, piety, or labors of these men, so long 
tried, known, and read of all men, both friends and enemies, for so many 

William P. Otterbein, of Baltimore, a regular Presbyterian the Ger- 
man apostle to America whose piety, labors, and learning were great, 
this man of God assisted T. Coke, R. Whatcoat, and T. Vasey in the or- 
dination of Francis Asbury. You will say if our Church were as pure as 
the primitive Church, will it not, may it not, like other modern, decline? 
I answer, We live in a purer age and in a free country. If discipline be 
maintained, men that carry sand instead of salt for the sheep will be con- 
strained soon to leave us, to join some more honorable, but perhaps fallen, 
Church where they can have more ease and greater emoluments. We 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 189 

have lived to see the end of such persons who left us and set up for them- 
selves witness Hammet and O'Kelly. 

Thomas Haweis, a moderate Episcopalian, fifty years a beneficed min- 
ister, is one of the most impartial historians on the subject of episcopacy. 
I shall chose this address with several quotations from his work, wherein 
you will see that he, without knowledge or design, has given the order of 
Episcopal Methodism the plume of honor above all others: 

" From the morning spread upon the mountains to the meridian splen- 
dor of the Sun of righteousness, I wish to trace the progress of his gospel 
amidst the storms of persecution, till his glory shall be finally revealed, 
and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. 
Contemptuous infidelity, proud philosophy, bigoted superstition, athe- 
istical immorality, heretical and schismatical depravity, may unite their 
powers against the child Jesus and his everlasting gospel, but the gates of 
hell shall never prevail. His persecuted Church shall rise. I have con- 
tinued to prefer an episcopal mode of Church government, unless I can 
find a better. I am satisfied that the Methodist mode of episcopal govern- 
ment is more apostolic than the Church of England ever was, will, or can 
be, without a radical reformation from its essential form of locality, 
written sermons and prayers, State laws, and human policy." (Vol. I, p. 12, 
of his Introduction.) 

" When I speak of episcopacy as most correspondent in my poor idea to 
the apostolic practice and general usage of the Church in the first and gen- 
erally esteemed purer ages, let no man imagine I plead for that episcopacy 
which, rising very early on the stilts of practical pride and worldly-mind- 
edness, has since overspread the earth with its baneful shadow; or suppose 
those to be true successors of the apostles who, grasping at power and pre- 
eminence over Churches which their labors never planted nor watered, 
claiming dominion over districts, provinces, and kingdoms beyond all 
power of individual superintendency." (P. 14.) 

Here, Bishop, mark: " Planted or watered." We have planted and wa- 
tered; although our continent is three thousand miles in length, we have 
measured it year after year, embracing fifty-one or two districts, about 
six hundred circuits, and nine Annual Conferences, all which, with very 
few exceptions, we have visited. Then, according to our author, we are 
apostolic bishops; for we have both planted and watered, and do water 
still. As to temporal power, what have we to do with that in this country? 
We are not senators, congressmen, or chaplains; neither do we hold any 
civil offices. We neither have, nor wish to have, anything to do with the 
government of the States, nor, as I conceive, do the States fear us. Our 
kingdom is not of this world. For near half a century we have nevei 
grasped at power. 

"All united in one Church fellowship [so the Methodists] under the 
superintendency of apostolic men at first and on their decease, the most 
distinguished for zeal, wisdom, sufferings, influence, or respectability of 
any kind, was called by the suffrage of the elders and people to be their 
superintendent, president, prxses; hegoumenoe, a leader; and thus the 

190 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

name of bishop (kat' exoehen), on account of preeminence, became very 
early appropriate to one who was primus inter pares; and, as Archbishop 
Usher says, differed only in degree of advantagement and not in order. 
These were, I apprehend, always from the apostolic days raised to their 
station by the voice of the people and their fellows. They preside in the 
deliberations of their several Churches, with the presbyters, their assessors. 
They were deputed to all synods which treated of ecclesiastical matters; 
and whilst every congregation judged its own members, they received the 
accusations against elders who were charged with offenses and censured 
or removed them. They examined the chosen candidates for the ministry, 
and, with the presbyter, ordained them by imposition of hands. This 
dangerous eminence marked them as peculiar victims in days of perse- 
cution. Far, therefore, from being an enviable or desirable situation, no 
man dare to aspire after or occupy it but such as counted their lives not 
dear unto themselves, that they 'might finish their course with joy, and 
the ministry which they had received from the Lord to fulfill it,' whether 
as confessors or martyrs." (P. 16.) 

" The sudden ability of illiterate men of so great a number in a moment, 
and with perfection, to speak in all languages, to express themselves with 
such propriety and force as not only to be clearly understood, but 
impressive on the consciences of the numerous foreigners then at Jerusalem 
from every nation under heaven, such a phenomenon could not but strike 
the hearers with astonishment and afford an evidence of divine agency too 
incontestible to admit of a rational doubt." (P. 28.) 

Now, Bishop McKendree, I will make this remark, that to take this 
transaction of the Divine Spirit prophetically, it saith to every minister, 
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" and 
that in all ages to come, unlettered men should be raised up to preach the 
gospel with the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. One may 
say, This man speaks well! ah, he is a college-taught man! Again it may 
be said, This man speaks well; he is a scholar! But you are mistaken. He 
has only a common education a plowman, a tailor, a carpenter, or a 
a shoemaker! Then he must be taught of God, if he is not taught of man. 
Then we may rationally conclude that learning is not an essential quali- 
fication to preach the gospel. It may be said no man but a fool will speak 
against learning. I have not spoken against learning. I have only said that 
it cannot be said to be an essential qualification to preach the gospel. It 
was once reported that two impostors (Roman priests) came to England, 
entered themselves as porters or draymen, but said they had received the 
gift of tongues and were called to preach. But Dr. Doddridge, being in 
the city, was requested to examine them and found they were scholars; 
but when he examined them in Welsh, the cheat was found out. And too 
often the learned priests deceive the people by their learning, or professing 
so to be; because the first preachers were blest with the gift of tongues 
immediately from heaven; so that a man must spend four or seven years 
in learning languages before he is permitted to preach the gospel. And 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 191 

who is to decide the question? Their practice and that of our Lord does 
not strictly agree. 

But to our author. " The Church at Jerusalem seems to have been under 
the presidency of the Apostle James. The great luminary was now rising 
to carry the light of the everlasting gospel into the heathen nations and 
to display a scene of labors and successes unequaled in the records of the 
Christian Church. The greater part of the Acts contain the account of 
his (Paul's) life and labors, recorded by his faithful attendant and com- 
panion in the work, Luke the Evangelist. Paul stands allowedly in the 
first ranks of eminence, in nothing behind the very chief of the apostles, 
whilst the generality of the others were out of the lowest orders of society 
(agrammatoi kai tidiotai), unlettered or private and laymen (Acts iv. 13). 
men of no literary acquirements. Paul seems to have been born in the 
superior rank of life." (Pp. 30, 31, 33.) 

Thus not many wise or rich men of the earth, in the past as well as the 
present age, have obeyed the call of the gospel. 

"He (Paul) flew as with the wings of a seraph over the habitable globe; 
and the vastness of his success corresponded with the rapidity of his move- 
ments and the indefatigable labors of his ministry. From Damascus to 
Arabia, Judea, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, and round about Illyricum, he 
had fully preached the gospel of Christ. Returning with the same un- 
wearied diligence to visit all the Churches his ministry had planted, he 
received a divine intimation that he must shortly visit Italy also. And he 
extended his views into Spain. An eye (geographical) cast over this im- 
mense tract of country will fill us with astonishment, how one man's labor 
could fill so extensive a sphere, and demonstrates how much may be done 
when the Spirit of Jesus animates and the benedictions of the Holy Ghost 
accompany the Word with power and much assurance. There is one 
particular I may not forget and which we Gentiles are bound to acknowl- 
edge with peculiar thankfulness, that he is our apostle. A ministry of 
more than thirty years was terminated, it is probable, by martyrdom." 
(Pp. 36, 37.) 

"I regard Paul as the first of human beings, to whom more are indebted 
for salvation, under the great Head of the Church, than to any other crea- 
ture. If his labors and preaching, as recorded, be taken into the account, 
if we consider his Epistles to the several Churches the inestimably blessed 
effects of which must be felt and acknowledged in all Churches to the end 
of time." (P. 38.) 

" It seems to have been a matter decided by the Church respecting the 
two itinerant apostles that Paul should go to the Gentiles and Peter to the 
circumcision. I suppose there was great wisdom herein displayed." 
(P. 40.) 

"A multitude of worthies have their names recorded in the Acts of the 
Apostles whose itinerant labors, with those of Paul, had the most powerful 
tendency to spread the Christian faith." (P. 47.) 

"A Church without evidence of the influence and experience of the opera- 
tion of the Holy Ghost hath but a name to live and is dead, and whatever 

192 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

may be its forms, or however sound its confession of faith, it hath no 
more title to be reckoned a Christian Church than a statue or corpse to be 
esteemed a living man. The form in which the Church appeared in the 
best, the primitive age, under the immediate inspection of the apostles 
and disciples of the Lord, deserves our consideration. And here, drawing 
around me the sacred circle, I wish to confine myself to the words of the 
Holy Ghost without any regard to the traditions of men. And I shall be- 
gin at Jerusalem. This was the fruitful womb from whence issued the 
noble army of martyrs, confessors, and evangelists, who, holding up the 
word of light, diffused the blessings of the glory of God the Saviour to the 
ends of the earth. These were the fruits of our Lord's ministry during his 
labors in Judea and the adjacent countries. They consisted of twelve men, 
first chosen, called apostles, or persons sent. To these were added seventy 
others, who were sent out to preach and teach. They were all endowed 
with miraculous powers; and on their return from their itinerancy through 
the nation, reported with triumph the wonders they had wrought. About 
five hundred brethren were summoned to behold our Lord's ascension into 
heaven." (P. 52.) 

"Three thousand believed on the first day (Pentecost), and myriads 
followed them. The immensity of this number affords us two views of 
their Church order: First, as necessarily distributed into various congre- 
gations, no one place being capable of containing such myriads or any one 
bishop or elder sufficient to administer the ordinances among them. We 
accordingly find them breaking bread from house to house (Acts ii. 46), 
preaching and teaching in every house (Acts v. 42), which seems to de- 
scribe the Church at Jerusalem. Second, these several house Churches 
formed one united Church body under the presidency of James, and not 
Peter. (Acts xv. 13.) He was at the head of the first council. To him Paul 
addressed himself (Acts xxi. 18) when all the elders or presbyters being as- 
sembled by him he reported to them the happy success of his ministry 
among the Gentiles. The necessity of a president where so great a number 
of elders resided and so many congregations were formed seems as natural 
for the preservation of order as it appears actually the case in this mother 
of all the Churches." (Pp. 54, 55.) 

"The care of the poor widows led to the institution of the order of dea- 
cons. This originated in a complaint of real or supposed partiality in the 
distribution of the alms of the faithful to the native Jewish widows, in 
preference to the Hellenists. (Acts vi. 1.) The apostles themselves being 
too much engaged to attend to these temporal concerns, recommended it 
to the Church to elect seven persons for the discharge of this office. These 
were accordingly chosen by general suffrage, not for each separate con- 
gregation, but for the whole body, and were set apart by the apostles 
after solemn prayer and imposition of hands, to this service. Though the 
care of the widows was immediately intrusted to them, it prevented them 
not from being employed in other labors of love. Philip was an evangelist 
and Stephen a like zealous advocate of Christ and his cause. In conse- 
quence of his boldness in the synagogue of the Libertines, the blood of this 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 193 

first martyr was shed by the fury of his enemies, and a great and general per- 
secution following, all the principal disciples were dispersed except the 
apostles who remained at Jerusalem. (Acts viii. 1.) These, flying in 
different directions, everywhere preached the gospel and with great success 
through Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and some as far as Antioch, Damas- 
cus, Phenice, and Cypress. They were village preachers, highway preach- 
ers, and were not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Paul (Acts xxiv. 23), 
in revisiting the Churches which had been planted principally by himself, 
edifies, comforts, and establishes them by ordaining elders in every Church 
with prayers and fasting." (P. 56.) 

"Returning through Pisidia and Attalia, they arrived happily at 
Antioch, communicating the glad tidings of^their success and of the Gentile 
Churches which they had planted. I can only observe here that I find in 
all these widely dispersed and numerous congregations no mention made 
of any appointment but that of presbyters, all cemented in one bond of 
union under the supervisal of the great itinerant evangalists." (P. 62.) 

And so it should have continued, and would have continued, if there 
had been a succession of a faithful seed of holy men to follow apostolic 
order, but as early as the second century they must have their local bishops 
or local apostles. 

"Though James was not superior to Peter or the other apostles at Jeru- 
salem [he may mean he was not superior as to age, gifts, or standing, but 
certainly he was superior, inasmuch as he had never so publicly denied his 
Lord], he had been evidently appointed to fill the place of president, or 
primus inter pares. Yet neither he nor any of his apostolic associates 
assumed to themselves authority to decide but by the suffrage of the whole 
body of the Church under immediate divine direction." (P. 63.) 

Our Annual, or more particularly our General, Conference resembles 
this grand council at Jerusalem, where James presided and all the other 
apostles, elders, and brethren solemnly discussed the cause or causes be- 
fore them, and James pronounced sentence according to the unanimous 
suffrage of the assembly, and the definitive decree was in favor of Gentile 

Paul and Barnabas separated for a while (Acts xv. 39) ; but probably God 
overruled this for good, and perhaps the Churches were more profited by 
their distinct labors than if they had traveled in company. 

Dr. Haweis continues: "It is evident that Timothy was still but a 
youth (ch. iv. 14), and whatever office he sustained or with whatever gifts 
he was endued he received them by the laying on of Paul's hands and of 
the presbytery. (1 Tim. iv. 14.) Did presbyters then ordain bishops, or 
were the terms synonymous? " Query, Had there not been two distinct 
acts in his ordination? Compare 1 Timothy iv. 14, and 2 Timothy i. 6: 
" The laying on the hands of the presbytery, stir up the gift of God, which 
is in thee, by the putting on of my hands." "That Timothy was left at 
Ephesus with superintending authority, where there were many bishops, 
is evident. (1 Tim. i. 3.) He was enjoined to encourage and honor 
those who presided over the congregations well, and especially such as 

194 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

were more actively laborious in preaching and catechising. (V. 18.) Re- 
specting hands, he was to lay hands suddenly on no man; and, without 
partiality or personal respect, he was to admit none into the ministry 
but after proper examination and conviction of their call and qualifica- 
tions. He was also cautiously to receive and weigh accusations against 
elders who should give offense and pronounce the sentence due to their 
unfaithfulness, acts strongly marking superior jurisdiction,and I hence 
infer that particular Churches neither ordained nor censured their own 
ministers, althouh they elected and recommended; and, if faulty, accused 
them by two or three witnesses before the great itinerant evangelists." 
(P. 76.) 

Mark well the similarity of apostolic order and government and the 
Methodist Episcopal form of things! 

In the Second Epistle to Timothy, Paul appears to have "returned 
again to the house of his prison at Rome, and ready to be offered up on the 
altar of martyrdom. He had detached his faithful itinerant helpers to a 
variety of services [although a prisoner, yet clothed with the authority of 
Christ, he appointed men of God their work], Cresens, to Galatia; Titus, 
to Dalmatia; while Timothy himself had been left in Asia, from whence he 
was shortly to proceed to Rome with Mark, who had once departed from 
the work, but had now returned to the labors and dangers of itinerancy. 
The principal subject of the Epistle is the dying charge of the great apostle 
to his beloved son respecting his own teaching and conduct and worthy 
the attentive consideration of every bishop or presbyter upon earth." (See 
P. 77.) 

Paul's two favored sons, Timothy and Titus, were his chief companions, 
and greatly employed in the regulation of the congregations which had 
been raised by his labors. The postscript of his first Epistle calls Timothy 
the first bishop of the Church of the Ephesians; but there is no such title 
given him by Paul or any intimation of his being at Ephesus but as one of 
the great itinerant evangelists, the companion of Paul and deputed by him 
to assist in bringing the congregations into a regular order of worship and 

"It nowhere appears that Titus was more the Bishop of Crete than of 
Dalmatia (2 Tim. iv. 10) or of Nicopolis (Titus iii. 2) or had any fixed 
residence or diocese, he being one of the great itinerant evangelists who 
went about preaching everywhere in season, out of season. And there- 
fore as soon as he had settled the Cretan Church in the most edifying 
manner, he was ordered to come and winter with Paul at Nicopclis, and 
Artemas or Tychicus should be dispatched to fill his place in the Cretan 

"A general superiority in all the Churches which they visited appears to 
have been exercised by these great evangelists, though none appears sta- 
tionary in any one place. They ordained, censured, regulated, were the 
cementing bond of union to the different Churches [so should the Method- 
ist bishops be], maintaining a unity of order and procedure through the 
whole. They all bore the name of apostles (2 Cor. viii. 23), were every- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 195 

where received with reverence and obeyed with filial affection. ['If any 
inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you; or 
our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the Churches and 
the glory of Christ.'] They assumed no domain over their faith, but 
were helpers of the joy of the faithful wherever they went. The gifts, abil- 
ities, and zeal which they displayed, with every divine temper which adorns 
the Christian ministry, could not but give them weight and procure them 
influence by whatever name they might be distinguished, and in every 
Christian Church, in the very nature of things, such men must possess su- 
periority, whatever be its constitution. Even where the most absolute 
parity is established, to these their fellows naturally give place. They are 
the presidents in all associations; heard with respect, commanding obe- 
dience; capable of awaying the decisions of their brethren; consulted in all 
difficult cases, and placed foremost in the hour of danger. To them is 
intrusted the care of eleemosynary distributions for the benefit of the body 
to which they belong, and in private and public all concede to them the 
seal of honor." (P. 78.) 

If the elders that rule well are worthy of double honor, then the bishops 
that rule well must be worthy of triple honor, especially when they do so 
large a part of ruling, preaching, and presiding in Conferences. 

"In the primitive Church [in speaking or writing, it was common to 
consolidate the first Churches into one, although they consisted of many 
societies, so we say the Methodist Episcopal Church], this superiority, 
was vested in the apostles and their companions, the great itinerant evan- 
gelists, Barnabas, Silas, Artemas, Tychicus, Trophimus, Titus, Timothy, 
and many others, chief men among the brethren." (P. 79.) 

Notwithstanding all these were great men in the Church of God, yet, 
as we have seen, none of them were writers. The Epistle to Titus bears 
some resemblance to that to Timothy. Men placed in similar situations 
were called to act under the same principles and to employ the same 
means. If we are willing, here we may see the propriety of our superin- 
tendency, presiding elders, as in the second part of the primitive Church, 
which order was lost in the first and not found again until the seven- 
teenth century, partially in Europe but more perfectly in America in the 
organization and establishment of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

" I conclude, as soon as a little society was formed of Christians, a room 
was opened for their assembling and the most apt to teach appointed to 
minister to them in holy things. [Perhaps not unlike a class leader and 
local preacher in one.] He was a man of gravity, generally of the more 
aged, approved by his fellows and willing to devote himself to their service. 
His appointment was signified by prayer and imposition of hands by the 
Apostle Paul or some of the itinerant evangelists and the presbytery, and 
without this I meet no ordination. Every Church [that is, every society] 
exercised discipline over its own members, to admit, admonish, or expel. 
Before these itinerating evangelists all accusations against offending 
esbyters were brought. [These evangelists seem not to have been sta- 

196 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

tionary, but to have gone about everywhere, chiefly under the direction 
of the Apostle Paul.] 

"These evangelists were usually supported by the Churches [or societies] 
but often, like Paul, maintained themselves by their own labors. During 
the first ages, the ministry was not appropriated to gentlemen or scholars. 
No man was bred to it as a profession or went into it for a maintenance. 
They were pastors of a different stamp. The stationary presbyters, or 
bishops, during the lives of the apostle and his associate evangelists, were 
under their superintendency. But it will appear very early in the second 
century, when the first race of great itinerants departed [or were slain for 
the testimony of Jesus], that one among the ministers in every place 
began to have the name of bishop (kaf exochen) on account of preeminency, 
with presbyters, hjs coadjutors, acting with him as one body." (Pp. 86, 87.) 

This leads me to conclude that there were no local bishops until the 
second century; that the apostles, in service, were bishops, and that those 
who were ordained in the second century mistook their calling when they 
became local and should have followed those bright examples in the apos- 
tolic age. I am not under the difficulties that some are respecting the 
same men who were ordained elders being called sometimes bishops, I am 
not sure that what was written to Timothy and Titus, that they themselves 
must be blameless as bishops, or overseers, excluded them from being evangel- 
ists. As to those at Ephtesus who were elders in office, they were in charge 
and duty overseers. In some sense among us every leader of a class, every 
local preacher, traveling preacher, and every officer in the Church may 
be called an overseer. Bishops, presbyters, and deacons, seem to have 
been the established form in all the Asiatic Churches in the second century. 

" Hitherto not a man eminent for science or letters had appeared in the 
Church. All those whose works have come down to us bear a stamp of 
simplicity divested of human attainments. Yet by these the gospel had 
been supported in its purity, afforded a noble army of martyrs, and been 
spread to the ends of the earth, from the Pillars of Hercules to the Par- 
thians, from the savage nations of the North to the Indies and Abyssinia." 
(P. 146.) 

" Considering the time and regarding the persons called to be saints, a 
learned ministry cannot be supposed in the primitive Church. The presby- 
ters have been, in general, men simple and unlettered, though full of faith 
and the Holy Ghost, the qualifications which then determined the suffrage 
of the several flocks. And after all the fine things so elegantly written 
(by the heathen philosophers) about virtue and morals, their own con- 
duct afforded a pregnant example of the impotence of the doctrines which 
they taught, whilst the Christian bishops not only lived what they pro- 
fessed to teach, but were every day ready to go to prison and to death for 
the name of the Lord Jesus." (P. 126.) No man counting his life dear 
who stood for Jesus, "bold to seal the truth with blood." 

"A learned and ingenuous age prides itself on its superiority in de- 
fense of revealed religion and apologizes for the Bible, but what hath (this 
mode) of arguing proved? The plain story of a plain unlettered man 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 197 

telling of the sufferings of Christ and the glory which hath followed with 
their consequences hath done more in the way of conversion to real and 
vital Christianity than all these great polemics put together. [The learn- 
ed may smile in Saul's armor, but give me the sling and the stone, and 
the gigantic Goliath falls.] I see the smile on the wise academician and 
the contemptuous infidel, but I am not ashamed of that gospel of Christ 
which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, nor 
of the sound though unlearned teacher who, having diligently read his Bible 
and then taught of God himself, is blessed with their conversation." (P. 

O my son, by diligence, discipline, and faithfulness, God hath made us a 
blessing to hundreds and thousands of those who have died within these 
last thirty years! Thus our work and reward have gone before us and 
more work and reward are given to us daily. Let the Annual Conference?, 
the quarterly meeting Conferences, let the presiding elders, deacons, and 
preachers, all feel their dignity, do their duty, and especially guard against 
every danger and innovation. Alas for us, if ever our excellent consitu- 
tion and order of things be changed or corrupted! (It is said that a good 
old bishop prayed that he might be taken away if Arius were restored, but 
the heretic himself was taken away.) I believe that those who would 
divide the body of Christ will be " divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel." 
Thirty years' labor and experience have taught us something. 

Be diligent to see and know how the different charitable contributions 
are disposed of. Sign no journals of an Annual Conference till every- 
thing is recorded, everything appears correctly and fairly. Should there 
be at any time failures in any department such as you cannot cure or re- 
store, appeal to the General Conference. Be rigidly strict in all things. 
Examine well those who come as candidates for the ministry. It is ours 
to plead, protest, and oppose designing men from getting into the ministry. 
It is the peculiar excellence of our Church and the superintendents' glory 
and stronghold that the character of every minister among us must under- 
go a strict examination once a year. Put men into office in whom you can 
confide. If they betray your trust and confidence, let them do it but once. 
Of all wickedness, spiritual wickedness is the greatest; and of all deceptions, 
religious deception is the worst. Beware of men who have a constitu- 
tional cast to deception. Let every office, grade, and station among us 
know his place, keep his place, and do his duty; then you need not fear for 
the ark of God. The Lord Jesus will take care of and support his own 

If we have not men of great talents, we have men of good hearts. En- 
deavor to obtain and preserve a noble independence of soul, the willing 
servant of all, but the slave of none. Put full confidence in men who merit 
your confidence. Never be afraid to trust young men; they are able, and 
you will find enough willing to endure the toils and go through the greatest 
labors; neither are they so likely to fail as old men are. 

" The simplicity of gospel truth ill accords with a farrago of rites and 
ceremonies. Nothing could be more unadorned than the primitive wor- 

198 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

ship. A plain man, chosen from among his fellows, in his common garb, 
stood up to speak, or sat down to read the Scriptures, to as many as chose 
to assemble in the house appointed. A back room, and that probably a 
mean one, or a garret, to be out of the way of observation, was their 
temple. Hymns sung to Christ, as their God, appeared to the heathens 
a prominent and striking feature of the Christian worship. The Holy 
Scriptures were read in portions; and the presbyter, or bishop, or two or 
three of the congregation who were endued with talents, spoke a word of 
exhortation to the people agreeably to the scripture which had been read. 
Prayer from the heart, without a prompter, followed, to which the people 
replied with a loud and audible amen. He that led the worship prayed 
from his hearrt, and out of its abundance. I have no doubt the Lord's 
Prayer always made a part of their public services. The Supper of the 
Lord closed the devotions of his day. I think it was as constant as the 
return of that day, and every member of the Churches as constantly par- 
ticipant. A friendly feast, or meal, called agape, from the love and union 
with which they kept it, served at one as an opportunity of ministering an 
act of charity to the poor, where all distinctions of rich and poor were laid 
aside and no man took before others his own supper, but all with humble 
equality acknowledged themselves members of the living head, Christ, 
and of one another." (P. 150.) 

"Then, also, I apprehend every man produced, according to his ability, 
weekly what he had laid by for charitable purposes, which formed a fund 
of obligations under the control of the Church, through the ministration 
of the bishop, presbyter, and deacon, for all the various purposes of general 
good such as purchasing the elements for the Lord's Supper, the provisions 
for the table of the agapae, for the necessaries for the poor, the support of 
evangelists, the relief of the persecuted, and for the welfare of such Churches 
and persons whose indigence called for the help of their richer brethren. 
As yet I can perceive no part of this fund appropriated to pay the salaries 
of any minister of the sanctuary, unless he came under the title of an 
itinerant evangelist, and, being incapable of providing his own maintenance 
and wholly occupied in the gospel work, was justly entitled, as preaching 
the gospel, to live by the gospel. I very much doubt if the bishop or 
presbyter and deacons received anything for their labors of love. I am 
persuaded they thought their work their best wages. 

" Amid the flames of persecution kindled without and the corruptions and 
errors broached within the Church continued to raise her scarred head, en- 
circled with glory, and to enlarge her borders farther and wider. After the 
departure of the great itinerant evangelists to their rest in glory and on the 
increasing extent of the Christian Church in every place the desirableness 
of a stationary president seems to have introduced a change in the govern- 
ment of several evangelical cities and Churches. The very learned Chan- 
cellor King endeavors to prove that in the largest cities there was but one 
Church and one bishop. I have already given my reasons for differing from 
him and for supposing the necessity of many house congregations where 
the body of Christian professors was so great, and as they sought to avoid 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 199 

observation and to attract as little as possible the attention of the rulers, 
they would not, assuredly, in such immense multitudes, have assembled 
in one place. That about the beginning of the second century a bishop ap- 
pears at the head of a presbytery, can hardly be doubted, and the name 
became appropriate to one which before all the presbyters had equally 
borne. Being now no longer under the superintending care of the great 
apostolic evangelists, who went about everywhere to establish, to preserve 
the unity of the Church, and be the cementing bond of the whole body, 
the several presbyters and Churches seem to have chosen one of their 
own body to supply the precedence these had before exercised. Whether 
the largest cities, as King argues, formed only one congregation with many 
presbyters, or rather, as I think, consisted of many congregations with pres- 
byters in each of them, the whole seems now to have formed one body 
under a superintendent (or episcopus, overseer) chosen by themselves. 
Every Church exercised discipline over its own members, in which the 
whole assemblage of the faithful gave their suffrage. Their reverence for 
their pastors was great; but clerical dominion had, as yet, found no place." 
(P. 126.) 

We have a few more thoughts to add. It is my confirmed opinion that 
the apostles acted both as bishops and traveling superintendents in plant- 
ing and watering, ruling and ordering the whole connection; and that they 
did not ordain any local bishops, but that they ordained local deacons and 
elders. I feel satisfied we should do the same. I found my opinion on Acts 
xiv. 23: "And when they had ordained them elders in every Church, and had 
fasted and prayed with them, they commended them to the Lord." "For this 
cause left I thee in Crete, that thou should set in order things that are 
wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I have appointed thee." (Titus 
i. 5.) That is, do what Paul has left undone. Mark! it was in the second 
visit that Paul and Barnabas established order; and why was Timothy or 
Titus sent if elders could ordain elders? And why had the apostles to go 
or send, if it was not held as the divine right of the apostles to ordain? 
I shall not unchristian any Church or Churches that have the truth of the 
gospel and the power of God among them, as I have already said. 

The Presbyterian Churches, at the first, should have established a mod- 
erate episcopacy and apostolic .form from whence they came, one from the 
high steeples of the Church of Rome and the other from the high steeples 
of the Church of England. An elective, easy government, and a traveling 
and local ministry, with a judicious discipline, would have been better 
than steeples, bells, schools, colleges, and universities to make men minis- 
ters whom the Lord never called. The ninth century appears to have been 
the time of midnight darkness. The light of the Reformation began to 
dawn in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The reformers were great 
men; but such was the state of affairs that no doubt there was yet much 
darkness mingled with the light; hence, it might be said: "All heads, and 
no heads." And I should be more afraid of a many-headed monster than 
of a single-headed one. 

You know that for four years past I have, with pleasure, resigned to you 

200 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

the presidency of the nine Annual Conferences. This has removed a great 
burden of care from me and given me much ease. You have my letters 
addressed to you on the subject. It may be objected by some that our 
form of Church government partakes too much of the government of the 
nation. It does not partake of its nature; but there are some similitudes 
of form, but not of nature. The one is civil, the other spiritual and entirely 
disunited. Our government being spiritual, one election to office is suffi- 
cient during life, unless in cases of debility, a voluntary resignation of the 
office, corruption in principle, or immorality in practice. 

The great diversity of gifts, both among our traveling and local ministry, 
is happily diffused abroad by our mode of circulation, to the benefit of 
hundreds and thousands. Many of our local ministers are men of approved 
abilities, with grace and gifts worthy to fill any pulpit. Many of them 
travel hundreds of miles in the year, are gladly received, and readily em- 
ployed to preach by their traveling brethren, and feel themselves at per- 
fect ease and completely at home on the different circuits and at camp 
meetings where they visit, having no fear they will be considered as in- 

Further, it may be asked, Is it proper to have no learned men among us? 
Answer: Men who are well read I call learned men; and we have men of 
learning among us, both traveling and local. Where are our young men 
who are bred to the law? and some are doctors; and many others who are 
very studious and making great progress in Latin and Greek; and many 
have competent knowledge of the English language. Particularly, see in 
the British connection such men as Drs. Coke and Clarke; a Benson, 
Creighton, and others. And in many instances men who profess the least 
know the most. 

A venerable German divine once wrote in Latin to the English doctors; 
but he had to complain that they answered him in English. But you may 
say, Would we not derive great advantages from reading the Scripture in 
their original tongues and judging of the correctness of the translations? 
Undoubtedly; but these advantages are in the margins of the best editions 
of the Bible. As to our translation, it is, perhaps, one of the best and 
most correct upon earth. To attain to a proper knowledge cf the etymol- 
ogy of all the words used, even in the Septuagint, I know not how many 
languages you must know besides the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. If you 
suggest anything more, I will maturely consider it. 

My dear Bishop, it is the traveling apostolic order and ministry that is 
found in our very constitution. No man among us can locate without or- 
der, or forfeit his official standing. No preacher is stationary more than 
two years; no presiding elder more than four years; and the constitution 
will remove them; and all are movable at the pleasure of the superin- 
tendent whenever he may find it necessary for the good of the cause. It 
is the privilege of every traveling minister with us to say: "I am not 
obliged to serve you another year; I will speak to the superintendent who 
will not impose on you a second year." We must conclude that all the 
ancient, imperial, Latin, and Greek Churches were episcopal from their 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 201 

foundation to this very day, though in a crooked, muddy succession; per- 
haps all corrupted in ordinances, and many of them in doctrines; and, in 
too many instances, the vilest of men have filled the most sacred offices in 
the Church. The Reformed English, Scotch, Danish, Swede, Episcopal 
Churches, have all corrupted their ways before the Lord. Let Presbyterians 
say and write what they may, as if episcopacy never existed, it must be 
granted that in the first, second, and third centuries many of the bishops 
were holy men, who traveled and labored in the ministry very extensively, 
not unlike their grand pattern, St. Paul, and the other holy apostolical 
men, of which wi have good historical evidence, which is all the evidence 
that can now be given. To the people of our day we give ocular demon- 
stration, and the generations to come may read our Church records and 
Conference journals, where they shall see what vast tracts of country we 
traveled over in visiting the nine Conferences annually. As to the doc- 
trines of the Reformation, we have said, in a second reformation they were 
the real gospel. They have been well introduced and complete forms of 
Church government established. Presbyterians and Independents were 
formed too about the sixteenth century. 

Finally, farewell in the Lord ! 



This "Valedictory" needs no explanation or 'apology and is 
a proper finale to the life of its great and good author. 

His remains were interred in the family graveyard of Mr. 
Arnold, at whose house he died, but at the request of the citizens 
of Baltimore and by order of the ensuing General Conference, 
they were disinterred, removed to that city, and deposited in 
a vault under the pulpit of the Eutaw Street Church, Baltimore. 
Very properly his honored remains, with those of Bishops 
Emory and Waugh, have been transferred to the beautiful 
Mount Olivet Cemetery near the city. 

Bishop Asbury was born in England, August 20, 1745; 
entered the ministry at the age of seventeen; came a missionary 
to America in 1771; was ordained bishop December 27, 1784; 
and died March 31, 1816. He was the apostle of Methodism to 
America, and a true scriptural itinerant bishop. Two millions 
of Methodists in America at the present revere his memory, and 
thousands of millions in ages to come will gratefully claim him 
as their spiritual ancestor and the great benefactor of our coun- 
try and our race. May his successors in the ministry and the 
episcopacy imitate his purity, zeal, and fidelity, and the whole 
American family, however they may differ in other and less 
important respects, approve themselves as his spiritual children 
by maintaining the doctrines and discipline which he labored 
to establish and imitate the experimental and practical holiness 
he professed and exemplified ! 


General Conference of 1816 Bishop McKendree's address George and 
Roberts elected bishops Sketches of them Bishop McKendree's 
Journal The work divided New York and Kentucky Conferences 
Bishop KcKendree organizes the Missouri Conference Bishop Roberts 
organizes the Mississippi Conference McKendree and George at 
South Carolina Conference Changes made by General Conference 
From Middlebury to Tennessee Norton rejoins him To Mississippi 
Conference on horseback McMahon and wife with him Mississippi 
Conference at Midway, 1817 To South Carolina Conference Griffin 
with him Difficulties of traveling Crossing the Chattahoochee 
General Gaines Indian murders In Sparta Myers Conference in 
Augusta, Ga. Roberts arrives They go to Virginia Conference in 
Norfolk Dr. Phoebus Travels alone, and leads a pack hcrse In 
Tennessee Visits Southwest extensively Ohio Conference of 1818 
Missouri Troubles at Tennessee Conference Writer's first acquaint- 
ance with him Starts to Mississippi Conference with Seaton and Edge 
The shock Very much affected Mississippi Conference Back 
to Tennessee Bishop Roberts's letters Notes on preachers,' qualifica- 
tions Dr. Emory Letters between them Their subsequent inter- 

THE second delegated General Conference met in Baltimore, 
May 1, 1816. Out of one hundred and fifteen preachers elected 
by the nine Annual Conferences, one hundred and six took 
their seats in this body. The recent death of the senior bishop, 
so long their revered and faithful leader, cast a gloom over the 
Conference as well as over the whole Church. Among their 
first acts was to make arrangements to remove his remains to 
the city of Baltimore and to read his Valedictory Address. 
The address is stated by Dr. Bangs to have been incomplete, 
being merely the heads of what he would have said more fully 
if his health had permitted and was directed to the Conference 
and must not be confounded with that to Bishop McKendree 
contained in the last chapter. In a few days a vast concourse 
of the citizens of the city, with clergymen of other denomina- 
tions and the members of the General Conference, preceded by 
Bishop McKendree, followed the corpse of Bishop Asbury from 
Light Street to the Eutaw Street Church, where, after a funeral 
oration by Bishop McKendree, it was deposited as already re- 
lated. The death of Dr. Coke in 1814 and the loss of Bishop 

Life and Timeslpf Bishop McKendree 203 

Asbury had left the Church with only one surviving bishop, 
and he was then in a feeble state of health and suffering from 
severe pain as well as general debility. Bishop McKendree 
was, however, able to preside in the organization of the body 
and before it proceeded to its regular business delivered an 
address "on the general state of the work, and the necessity of 
adding strength to the episcopacy." This address, of which 
Dr. Bangs says he could not find a copy, was as follows: 

BALTIMORE, MAY 1, 1816. 

To the General Conference. 

Dearly Beloved Brethren: We believe God's design in raising up the 
preachers called Methodists in America was to reform the continent by 
spreading scriptual holiness over these lands. The end is not fully ac- 
complished, therefore our mission is not out. But there is no reason to 
apprehend that the plan and means which have been adopted and so suc- 
cessfully pursued heretofore are not fully calculated to accomplish the 
desired object. But, alas, our success of late falls far short of what we have 
had in former days! According to the divine plan, the prosperity of the 
Church depends very much upon the spirit and conduct of the ministry. 
It is therefore proper at all times for the General Conference to pay par- 
ticular attention to the state of the ministry and their charge, to remove 
hindrances, and supply necessary means. To this end it may not be 
amiss for your superintendents to suggest for your consideration subjects 
which appear to them closely connected with your peace and prosperity. 

It is useless to have rules and regulations by which to govern the Church 
unless they are attended to, and it is ultimately with you, whose prerog- 
ative it is to form them, to see and know they are carried into effect. That 
the executive authority is conferred on the general superintendents is true, 
but it is so fixed in order to constitute a proper medium through which to 
supply every part of this extensive work with the necessary wisdom and 
experience as it relates to gospel doctrines and discipline, and at the same 
time to bring the whole administration under your inspection as general 
superintendents of the work. Therefore an effective general superintend- 
ency is essentially necessary. It is the center of union and harmony be- 
tween the several members cf the general body and the only means the 
General Conference has to carry our economy into complete operation 
and perpetuate the episcopal government and the itinerant plan of preach- 
ing the gospel. But such is the manifest weakness of the superintendency 
at present that it cannot fully discharge all the duties connected with this 
department. You will therefore feel the necessity of affording suitable aid, 
as you may think proper. 

It was the intention of your superintendents to have visited the Mis- 
sissippi, conformably to the arrangements of the last General Conference; 
but the hostile disposition of the Indians and the situation of the country 
in opinion of judicious brethren were such as to prevent them in the first 
instance and Bishop Asbury's health in the second, so that they have done 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

nothing in the formation of the contemplated Conference. That section 
of the work, therefore, remains as it was; but those best acquainted with 
it are of opinion that it is essentially necessary to the prosperity of the 
work that the superintendents should visit that section of the country. 

It is our misfortune in some parts of the work to have a ministry always 
in its infancy and sometimes very deficient in numbers in consequence-of 
location, while the hands of those who remain and nobly refuse to leave 
the work are made to hang down by reason of the weight of family concerns. 
What can be done to prevent the admission of such into the traveling con- 
nection as feel themselves at liberty tc depart from it at pleasure, like men 
of the world, who change their pursuits for their temporal interests? To 
rescue others from such family afflictions as might be removed consist- 
ently with the spirit of the gospel and our principles of government and 
at the same time not to impose improper or unnecessary burdens on the 
Church of God, is both a delicate and difficult undertaking; yet it is pre- 
sumed to be possible, if wisdom and prudence conduct the business and 
would no doubt contribute much to the permanency and prosperity of the 
work and order established among us. And while making the necessary 
provisions for the needy, it may be very proper you should notice the 
manner of circulating books among our people and guard against attempts, 
should they be made, to divert the course of our charitable institutions to 
the personal interest of individuals and to convert our worshiping as- 
semblies into places of traffic. 

It is with regret that the superintendents have to advise measures to 
stimulate the preachers to a more uniform attention to the duties of their 
station. It is presumable that so much more time than is necessary is 
taken up in going to and returning from the Annual Conferences and in 
leaving their charges for other purposes in the course of the year that 
some circuits lose one-fourth of their time, if not more, and thereby suffer 
an irreparable loss. 

It is our professed business "to bring as many sinners as we can to 
repentance and with all our power to build them up in that holiness with- 
out which they cannot see the Lord." In making full proof of our call to 
this work, it is expected that we should visit from house to house, as well 
as preach the word publicly, to instruct the children, visit the fatherless 
and the widow in their affliction, and to enforce vigorously, but calmly, 
all the rules of the society. Are these points properly attended to among 

The management of this important work is with the superintendents; 
and it is for the General Conference to know the state of affairs in order to 
correct errors and give tone to the executive, when their aid is necessary 
in carrying the plan into complete effect. Therefore the whole is cheer- 
fully submitted to your inspection. 

I remain, as ever, your brother and fellow laborer, 


The Committee on the Episcopacy, appointed to consider 
that part of the address which referred to that subject, brought 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 205 

in a report recommending the election of two additional 
bishops; and on May 14, Enoch George, of the Baltimore 
Conference, and Robert Richford Roberts, of Philadelphia, 
were duly elected, the former receiving fifty-seven and the latter 
fifty-five votes out of one hundred and six. 

Bishop George was a native of Eastern Virginia, about fifty 
years of age. He was converted under the ministry of John 
Easter; began to travel and preach in 1789. After a few years 
he went, at the call of Bishop Asbury, to the Southern Confer- 
ence, and labored in South Carolina and Georgia several years. 
His health failing, he returned to Virginia and about 1800 
entered the Baltimore Conference, where he filled various im- 
portant appointments and districts. He was a widower, with 
four children; low of stature, but stoutly built. His features 
were grave and expressive of strong emotions; his eyes, small 
and deeply seated beneath an overhanging, heavy brow, 
twinkled, or melted into tears, as the sentiments he uttered 
might demand; and his voice thrilled or softened the hearts of 
his auditory, as he poured out his soul with a pathos the writer 
never heard excelled; for he can never forget a sermon the 
Bishop preached in Tennessee at his first visit to that Confer- 
ence in 1817. .His text was: "And this is the victory that over- 
cometh the world, even our faith." There was something in his 
manner of address, in the tones of his voice, the subdued yet 
earnest and fervid spirit of the preacher that affected the whole 
audience. He explained faith and illustrated its victory by 
Bible incidents in the most simple and appropriate style and 
blended arguments with exhortation and appeals to the under- 
standing with those to the heart until the entire assembly 
seemed to be completely under the control of his holy eloquence. 
There was nothing boisterous in his voice; no remarkable exhi- 
bition of intelligence; least of all was there any attempt at 
oratorical display. He was not a "son of thunder," but of 
yearning pity and holy sympathy. He wept over sinners; tears 
were constantly welling up in his eyes, and, without pausing, he 
would slip a finger behind his spectacles and brush away the blind- 
ing tear, to be replaced by another at the very next sentence. 
Before my imagination, he seemed to be another John who had 
leaned on the bosom of Jesus and returned from Patmos where 
visions of heavenly brightness and fadeless beauty had en- 
tranced his mind and filled his soul with adoring love. I was 
young and had just begun to preach. Since then I have heard 
many impressive sermons from the best preachers of the land ; 

206 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

they have instructed, charmed, and thrilled me, but I have never 
heard a man who so strongly wrought upon my feelings and 
kept me bathed in tears from the beginning to the close of his 
sermon. The image of that man of God and the scenes of that 
hour are still vividly fixed in my memory; and yet, with all his 
purity, his zeal, and wonderful power over the heart, it cannot 
be said that he was well adapted to the duties of the episcopal 
office. Without professing to have a thorough personal ac- 
quaintance with him, the writer must be allowed to say that 
he was not remarkable for his knowledge of the polity of the 
Church; his very kindness of heart and love of peace inclined 
him to make concessions and compromises for the attainment 
of harmony which might have been very prejudicial to the 
general interests of the Church if they had been adopted. He 
was deficient in the methodical arrangement of his plans arid 
too indifferent to the enforcement of rules of order to make a 
superior presiding officer. In these respects he differed entirely 
from Bishop McKendree. During a little more than twelve 
years he continued to perform the duties of his office. He was 
greatly revered and beloved for his many virtues and his labo- 
rious and useful services. No one ever questioned his piety or 
integrity. He was deeply pious and of a most, childlike and 
affectionate heart. He lived a toilsome and suffering life and 
died rather suddenly at Staunton, Va., August 23, 1828, on his 
way to the Holston Conference. Short as was the warning, he 
was found ready and willing to depart, shouting in his last 
moments: "Glory, glory! I shall soon be in glory!" 

Bishop Roberts was a native of Frederick County, Md., and 
was born in 1778. His parents were in humble circumstances, 
having a family of thirteen children, of whom he was the ninth. 
They were moral and respected for their integrity, and although 
inclined to the Episcopal Church, were not professors of 
religion. The literary advantages of the Bishop were therefore 
quite inconsiderable in early life, although his parents seem to 
have appreciated the importance of an education and gave him 
all the opportunities of mental culture which their moderate 
means and their locality enabled them to afford him. When 
he was about eight years of age, they removed from Maryland 
to Pennsylvania and settled in a retired valley at the western 
base of the Alleghany Mountains, in Westmoreland County. 
Amid the wild grandeur of their new home, away from the bustle 
and fashion of the world, he grew to manhood. Under the min- 
istry of the Methodist traveling preachers, he and his father's 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 207 

family generally were converted and joined the Church. Sub- 
sequently the family sought a residence in Shenango Valley, in 
the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, where an almost 
unbroken and uninhabited forest surrounded them. Soon, 
however, their backwoods section of country began to be filled 
up with hardy and industrious pioneers, and there he began his 
ministry. In 1802 he was admitted on trial in the Baltimore 
Conference and appointed to Carlisle Circuit. It was the same 
year in which John A. Granade, Frederick Stier, Joseph Toy, 
William Ryland, Thomas L. Douglass, George Dougherty, and 
Nathan Bangs entered the traveling connection. Alas, all of 
this list of noble spirits have passed away from earth! But 
they all died in faith and are united with the general assembly 
and Church of the firstborn. Mr. Roberts married before he 
became a preacher, and his wife proved herself worthy of such a 
man. They never had any children. 

At the General Conference of 1808, in Baltimore, he appeared 
as a member, clad in backwoods style, but such was the impres- 
sion produced by his preaching that at the solicitation of many 
of the most intelligent and prominent members of the Church, 
shortly after the close of the session, Bishop Asbury directed 
him to quit his work in the Western backwoods, and take charge 
of the Baltimore City Station. Thenceforth it is useless to 
trace his course; suffice it to say, he was always acceptable and 
useful, whether in the cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia, or 
on the Schuylkill District as presiding elder, from which last- 
mentioned work he was transferred by the vote of the General 
Conference of 1816 to the episcopacy. The writer first saw 
Bishop Roberts at the Tennessee Conference of 1817, held in 
Franklin, and heard him preach in the courthouse on Hebrews 
ii. 3. He was a large man, weighing two hundred and twenty 
pounds. His whole person indicated him to be one of nature's 
noblemen. His features were large, benignant, and intellectual. 
His head was of an uncommon size; his forehead high and mas- 
sive; his eyes blue or hazel colored; his manner of address al- 
ways easy and graceful; his voice a deep bass, but soft and musi- 
cal. There was nothing constrained or unnatural in its modu- 
lation, but it was an earnest and animated conversational tone. 
When excited by "thoughts that burn," his majestic frame 
seemed to expand, his mind-illumined face glowed, and his 
voice would now swell like the notes of a bugle, and anon sink 
into the low and trembling tones of pity and persuasion; and 
yet there were no abrupt or startling variations, but only such 

208 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

,as harmonized with the theme, the words of the speaker, and the 
feelings of the audience. The art of oratory he never studied; 
and yet occasionally he almost reached the highest standard of 
that noblest of all arts. He practiced the art without knowing 
it, for nature and grace made him an orator. The writer re- 
members most distinctly two sermons he heard him deliver 
many years apart, the one in Franklin, Tenn., alluded to 
already, the other in Huntsville, Ala. On the former occasion 
he held an immense audience as if spellbound for more than an 
hour while he portrayed the fearful consequences of neglecting 
the great salvation. In that vast assembly there stood by the 
side of the writer a friend from Nashville, Mr. John Price, who, 
having sought for mercy for months with deep contrition and 
many tears, had almost sunk into despair. The writer and other 
young converts had labored in prayer and exhortation with him 
a good part of the previous night, the remainder of the night 
he had spent upon his knees alone in his room. He went with 
a heavy heart to the courthouse to hear the Bishop, having 
refused all sustenance for many hours. But while the speaker 
was dwelling -upon the greatness of the salvation tendered to 
penitent sinners on the condition of faith in Christ, my friend 
stood and listened as if transfixed and charmed. After a short 
but eventful mental struggle, the tears gushed from his eyes, a 
faint smile stole over his lately dejected countenance, and pres- 
ently he sunk down with the unutterable peace of a soul 
justified by faith. More than thirty years afterwards, this 
friend of my early ministry was taken from a steamboat de- 
scending the Mississippi River, and at midnight was left alone 
on a wharfboat at Vicksburg. A drayman carried him to the 
hotel, which refused to admit him because he had the cholera; 
and before day, in an old unoccupied house, he breathed his last. 
The black man who carried him to that house and was the only 
human companion in his last mortal struggle reported that he 
died (as he had lived) in the full triumphs of the great salvation. 

The other sermon alluded to was preached by the Bishop in 
the Presbyterian Church of Huntsville, Ala., on Sabbath 
morning of the Conference. The text was: "Alleluia: for the 
Lord God omnipotent reigneth." (Rev. xix. 6.) It was a glo- 
rious sermon, worthy of the man and the occasion, and as worthy 
of the theme as any I ever heard. 

It seems strange to many that men whose literary advantages 
have been so limited as Bishop Roberta's should make such emi- 
nently popular and useful preachers. Such persons lose sight of 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 209 

the fact that Mr. Roberts, although only an English scholar, 
had a most vigorous mind, read and studied much after he 
entered the ministry; was by nature a graceful and fluent 
speaker; and that in the itinerancy of the Methodist Church he 
enjoyed the privilege of graduating in one of the best schools 
for training young preachers and making them "able ministers 
of the New Testament." For surely, if success be a test of 
ability, they may claim rank with any in the world. 

Bishop Roberts was remarkable for modesty, humility, and 
simple dignity of manners. He was surprised at his own popu- 
larity as a preacher and was humbled rather than elated by the 
discovery, and his election to the episcopacy almost over- 
whelmed him. He always shunned notoriety; and, but for 
conscience' sake, would have retired to his humble cottage 
home, in the most secluded portion of Indiana, and spent his 
life unnoticed and unknown. Never have I known a man of a 
more unaffectedly humble and guileless heart, or one to whom 
strife and controversy seemed more repugnant. And yet, 
although so mild and almost apparently timid, when a sense of 
duty to the Church, to truth, or to the character of a brother 
required it his firmness and moral courage were equal to any 

He made an excellent bishop. The only deficiencies under 
which he labored originated in his size and his sympathies. 
Owing to his great weight he failed, on many occasions, to reach 
the Conferences at the proper time, and, occasionally, to get to 
them at all. For, on account of the want of public conveyances 
and the condition of the roads, especially in the West and South, 
he was obliged to travel on horseback; and no horse could be 
found capable of bearing him through his long tours. Nor 
were these long rides much less painful to himself. 

His sympathies were so strong that he could not always 
resist their influence, even although his judgment might demur; 
so that many a truant young preacher received a mild rebuke 
who deserved a severe reprimand. He presided over the preach- 
ers in Conference like a father among his children, and no bishop 
was ever more generally or deeply loved. His long and weari- 
some journeys, his exposure to every change of weather and 
climate for so many years, and the never-ending care of all the 
Churches, which came upon him daily, after twenty-seven 
years of faithful and acceptable service as an itinerant bishop 
broke down his vigorous constitution, and he died in the spring 
of 1843. His death was peaceful and resigned; his work was 

210 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

done, and he was ready to depart and go to Christ. And rarely 
has so pure and lovely a spirit passed from earth to heaven. A 
few of his neighbors were present at his burial, who, having 
prepared for him a grave on his own little farm, quietly laid 
him away to rest in one of the most sequestered places in the 

Subsequently the Indiana Conference consented to the re- 
moval of his remains to Greencastle, the seat of the Indiana 
Asbury University; and within the inclosure of the college 
grounds they now repose, awaiting the resurrection of the just. 

What a rich legacy has the Methodist family, North and 
South, in the character and labors of their early bishops! And 
while we should never be proud of our succession, we have cer- 
tainly no reason to be ashamed of it. May it ever be so in 
every branch of our Methodism! 

Such were the men who, by the vote of the General Con- 
ference, were made joint superintendents with Bishop McKen- 
dree. The field of their labor was also extended by the addition 
of the Mississippi and Missouri Conferences, making now 
eleven Conferences. 

Although the war between our country and Great Britain 
had been terminated by the Treaty of Ghent, signed December 
24, 1814, yet the effects of that struggle continued to be felt 
for some years afterwards. The excitement of the war and the 
demoralization which always accompanies it, however, gradually 
gave way to a more healthy state of public feeling. But it is 
evident that from 1812 to 1816 the Methodist Church was less 
successful in increasing her membership and ministry than 
during any other equal term before or since. 

The Journal of Bishop McKendree notices this fact in the 
following statement: 

"In 1812, we had 195,257 members and 688 traveling preach- 
ers. In 1816, there were 211,165 members and 695 preachers, 
giving an increase of 15,808 members and but 7 preachers in 
four years." 

He proceeds to say: "At the close of the General Conference, 
my health was so far recovered as to justify an attempt to 
resume my labors, especially as there were two bishops added, 
who, I expected, would relieve me of a great part of the labor; 
but neither of them was acquainted with the general state of the 
Church or with the peculiarities and difficulties of the episcopal 
duties. It was therefore advised that they should attend the 
first three Conferences in company, in order to adjust their 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 211 

views and mode of presiding, so that ttiey might administer 
harmoniously when separated. Bishop Roberts approved of the 
plan, and went with me." 

But, as it was thought to be neither necessary nor advisable 
for all the bishops to attend each Annual Conference, they made 
a division of the work among themselves, "mutually agreeing 
to attend the Conferences alternately, thus changing their 
work every year; and for the bishop whose turn it might be to 
attend a Conference to be the responsible president of it, and 
the other bishops, if present, to be his counselors. And, if they 
should not find it best to attend as counselors, or assistants, 
for the time being, they were to employ the intervals in visiting 
the Churches," etc. Thus was begun the practice of dividing 
the work of superintending the Conferences by the bishops them- 
selves, and also of alternating, a method which, it is hoped, will 
be perpetuated as most consistent with the genius of our 
Church constitution and best calculated to promote union and 
perpetuate the itinerancy. 

We quote again from the Bishop's Journal: "The bishops 
are personally responsible for their moral conduct, but, as 
general superintendents, they are jointly responsible for the 
administration of the discipline or for the management of 
'the spiritual and temporal business of the Church/" which is 
subject to their oversight. Conformably to this view, immedi- 
ately after the General Conference adjourned, the bishops 
met together to arrange their plan of future operations. Bishop 
George proposed a division of the work into three districts, 
each to take his part or lot. To this the senior bishop objected, 
and proposed that as two were but just entering upon the 
important work, they should all go to the New York and New 
England Conferences, see the state of things, harmonize their 
views and mode of transacting their official duties, in order to 
prevent a difference in their administrations when apart. 
Bishop Roberts acceded to the proposition, but Bishop George 
had business which called for his attention, nor could he see it 
"necessary for three men to go and do one man's work." From 
the New England Conference Bishop Roberts, according to the 
plan proposed, was to return by Baltimore, take his family 
to the western country, and meet his colleagues at the Ohio 
Conference. From that point they were to commence their 
general plan of operation. According to this arrangement there 
was an ideal division of the work into three parts the senior 
bishop taking the first, Bishop George the second, and Bishop 

212 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Roberts the third. Each was bound to attend his allotted part; 
not, however, to the exclusion of the other two, who were at 
liberty to attend officially, if they could do so, or to visit the 
Churches as circumstances might direct. Bishop George fell 
in with the senior bishop at the Genesee Conference, at Paris, 
N. Y., July 17, 1816; thence they traveled together through 
Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio, to Louisville, Ky., the place 
of the Ohio Conference. Here they met with Bishop Roberts, 
all in good health after long journeys in very hot weather. 

The Conference began on September 3. It was a very sickly 
season, and many of the preachers suffered. From this place 
the bishops had to separate in order to organize the lately 
constituted Missouri and Mississippi Conferences. The senior 
proposed to attend one and his junior colleagues the other, with 
liberty to select which they would attend. But it did not suit 
Bishop George to attend either of the frontier Conferences. 
The senior went to Missouri, and Bishop Roberts to Mississippi, 
which made it necessary for the former to add to his travel 
about 1,500 miles, and the latter about 800. William McMahon 
consented, in Nashville, to accompany Bishop Roberts to 
Mississippi, but they were both taken sick. Bishop Roberts 
partially recovered, and, in a very feeble state of health, pur- 
sued his journey, accomplished his work, and returned safely. 

Bishop George went immediately to Georgia, and improved 
the time in visiting and preaching to his old acquaintances in 
those parts, and then accompanied his elder colleague, whose 
course, according to the general plan, commenced with the 
South Carolina Conference. By this arrangement, the Mis- 
sissippi Conference would have fallen to Bishop Roberts the 
following year, which would have imposed too much riding and 
absence from his family upon him. To obviate the difficulty, 
the senior bishop volunteered to serve it in his stead. "At the 
South Carolina Conference, held in Columbia, I accordingly 
fell in with Bishop George, when we had a profitable time with 
the preachers in Conference, a pleasing account of the work in 
their respective charges, and an edifying time in the congrega- 
tions. Bishop George continued with me the remaining 
Conferences of my work, and then entered upon his own course. 
But instead of relaxing my labors, I continued with Bishop 
George to the Conferences in his division of the work, although 
I had attended them last year with Bishop Roberts." 

For the present, leaving these laborious, faithful men to pur- 
sue their toilsome round of duty, let us take a concise review of 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 213 

the condition of the Church and the acts of the General Con- 
ference. And the first thing which strikes our attention is the 
absence of asperity and undue excitement, as evinced by the 
action of the Conference. That there was a difference of 
opinion, as there always had been, in reference to certain 
measures of polity, there is no doubt; but perhaps in no General 
Conference since 1784 had there been more unanimity; so that 
the changes which were proposed in the important principles 
and mode of administration of the government were rejected 
with increased majorities, except in reference to slavery, while 
the few changes which were made on points of minor importance 
were evidently beneficial. Let us examine a few of them. 

The ratio of representation in the General Conference was 
altered from five to seven. 

The proviso at the close of the Restrictive Rules, which 
rendered it necessary to obtain "the joint recommendation of 
all the Annual Conferences," to enable the General Conference 
to change any part of the constitution of the Church, was 
stricken out, and "the concurrent recommendation of three- 
fourths of all the members of the several Annual Conferences 
who shall be present and vote on such recommendation," was 

A new clause was inserted in the Discipline, making it the 
duty of the bishop to prescribe a course of reading and study 
to be pursued by candidates for the ministry. 

Two new Conferences, as already stated, were added viz., 
Missouri and Mississippi. 

The annual salary of a traveling preacher was changed, in 
1800, from sixty-four to eighty dollars; and in 1816, from eighty 
to one hundred dollars. 

Since 1808, each Annual Conference had been authorized 
"to make its own rules about buying and selling slaves;" but 
in 1816, the General Conference resolved that "no slaveholder 
shall be eligible to any official station in our Church hereafter 
where the laws of the State in which he lives will admit of 
emancipation and permit the liberated slave to enjoy freedom." 
This was a decided advance. 

Of course the vexed question as to the election of presiding 
elders came up at this Conference, as it had done before and 
continued to do for several subsequent sessions. 

"On May 7, Samuel Merwin offered to amend the Discipline 
respecting the mode of appointing presiding elders, so as to 

214 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

"'Question. How shall the presiding elders be appointed? 

"'Answer. At an early period of each Annual Conference, 
the bishop shall nominate a person for each district that is to 
be supplied, and the Conference, without debate, shall proceed 
to the choice, the person nominated being absent; and if the 
person nominated be not chosen according to nomination, the 
bishop shall nominate two others, one of whom it shall be the 
duty of the Conference to choose. 

"'Ques. By whom shall the preachers be appointed to their 

"'Ans. By the bishop, with the advice and consent of the 
presiding elders.' 

"Subsequently, Nathan Bangs offered to amend the first 
answer by appending the following words to it: 'And the pre- 
siding elder so elected and appointed shall remain in office four 
years, unless sooner dismissed by the mutual consent of the 
bishop and the Conference, or unless he be elected to some 
other office by the General Conference. But no presiding elder 
shall be removed from office during the term of four years, 
without his consent, unless the reasons for such removal be 
stated to him in the presence of the Conference, who shall de- 
cide without debate on his case. ' " l 

The whole question was lost by a vote of forty-two to sixty, 
showing an increased majority against the innovation. 

We now resume the Journal of Bishop McKendree, beginning 
with his tour, in company with Bishop George, to the New 
England Conference. 

"On our way to the New England Conference, at Concord, 
N. H., which met on May 16, 1817, we traveled two days in 
full view of the winter snow on the mountains in that State, 
while the people were planting corn at the foot of the mountain. 

"May 15. We traveled through a fall of snow, the weather 
being so cold that some of our company, from the South, had 
their faces frost-bitten. From Concord we went to the New 
York Conference, which was held at Middlebury, Vt., June 3, 
1817. From the top of the mountain and highlands in Ver- 
mont we saw an abundance of snow on the mountains in Canada. 
Our Conference was received and treated in a respectful man- 
ner by the citizens of Middlebury, and the Lord made the preach- 
ing of his word by us a blessing to them. But the Congrega- 
tional minister manifested stern opposition; however, we had 
an official invitation to preach and ordain in the Congregational 

^'Life and Times of Jesse Lee," p. 500. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 215 

meetinghouse, it being the largest in the place. The court, 
then sitting, adjourned and attended; we had a large congre- 

"In order to redeem my pledge to attend the Mississippi 
Conference, in Bishop Roberts's place, I parted with Bishop 
George at Middlebury. At the head of Lake Champlain we 
turned a little off the direct road, to view the British fleet which 
had been captured in the lake by Commodore McDonough, 
September 11, 1814. We thence urged our way to New York 
and Philadelphia, visited the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and 
went across the bay to Baltimore. The excessive fatigue of 
riding on horseback induced me, while in Philadelphia, to pur- 
chase a light dearborn wagon, which met me at this place. After 
a few days we set out again, and passed through Maryland and 
Pennsylvania, and crossed the Alleghany to Wheeling, Va. 
Thence, through Ohio and Kentucky, I went to my brother's 
in Summer County, Tenn. Here I met with my beloved friend, 
James Norton, who, at the South Carolina Conference of 1813, 
was appointed to travel with me; but Bishop Asbury's aid hav- 
ing failed, I gave up Brother Norton to supply his place. At 
the General Conference of 1816, Brother Norton was a member, 
and seeing I was afflicted, offered his services as my traveling 
companion. The offer was thankfully accepted. We continued 
together until the fall, and then, to supply the deficiency of a 
preacher, and by his consent, he was appointed to Fountain 
Head Circuit. At his quarterly meeting, held for that circuit 
at Stephenson's Meetinghouse, October 4, 1817, he resumed 
his place as companion in travel. 

"As the road we were to take to Mississippi was not adapted 
to carriages, we sold our little wagon and procured a pack horse 
to carry our provisions through the Indian Nations. We left 
Fountain Head in good spirits. In Franklin, Tenn., Brother 
William McMahon and his wife joined us, on a visit to her 
father's, Judge Seth Lewis's, in Louisiana. We were blessed 
with very agreeable company. We traveled through heavy 
rains and encountered high waters, not without some appre- 
hension from drunken Indians, but got through safely. Brother 
McMahon and his wife pursued their way to her father's and 
we arrived in good time at Midway, where the Mississippi Con- 
ference began November 7, 1817. 

"The Conference was a very agreeable one; but the rains 
having continued, we found the water courses very high. We 
set out, however, attended by Thomas Griffin, who conducted 

216 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

us to Fort Claiborne. The creeks and rivers overflowed; some- 
times for miles the country was inundated. Ferrymen took us 
over the streams and through the woods as far as the boats 
could go, but occasionally we had to swim. Many were our 
difficulties before we reached Georgia. The most alarming were 
in crossing a creek in Alabama and at the Chattahoochee River, 
in the Creek Nation. A preacher from the South Carolina 
Conference, who came to meet and escort us, arrived at the 
creek alluded to in the evening, and, finding it impassable, re- 
mained near, waiting for the water to subside. We lay in the 
woods all night, left our camp fire early, and arrived at the 
creek about nine o'clock in the morning and found the water 
very high an9 the boat sunk. The ferryman, being stimulated, 
obtained additional aid, raised and bailed and calked the boat, 
and ventured to cross over to our side. We got the horses on 
the boat, and off they pushed, rowing and bailing as hard as 
they could, with the water rising in the boat all the time. Our 
hopes and fears were nearly balanced. If the boat should sink, 
we were to swim. But the Bishop could not swim; however, he 
could hold on to the tail of a horse and let him swim. So soon 
as the boat rested on the other shore, the water poured in at 
both ends, but men and horses hastened out while it was sink- 
ing. The next night we camped with a family moving to the 
West, who knew us. A hog was killed, and we were comfortably 
entertained and had meeting with them. Another night we 
camped with a number of families, and preached to them. Our 
journey was made more pleasant by falling in with a gentleman 
and his servant, who were returning to Georgia with an empty 
wagon, for the remainder of his family and property. He gen- 
erously consented to carry our provision for ourselves and our 
horses, and our horses as well as ourselves were thereby safe 
from starvation. 

"The Chattahoochee is a considerable river where it runs 
through the Creek Nation. As a compensation, in part, for the 
privilege of having a road through the Nation from Georgia to 
Alabama, the United States supplied a good ferryboat, and 
fixed a substantial rope across the river, but the late freshet had 
swept off the boat, and a very indifferent one had been substi- 
tuted; so light and narrow was it that travelers had to take 
their wagons over empty, with a wheel on each side in the water. 
It could carry over but two horses at a time, and they must 
stand lengthwise in the boat and keep quiet. Thousands of 
movers were on the road; and many carriages and wagons were 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 217 

on the east side of the river awaiting their turn to cross. As we 
were from the West, we had to wait no longer than the return 
of the boat. The first boat took in the two preachers i. e., 
Bishop McKendnee and Brother Norton and their saddle 
horses, one of which was young and restive. After getting out 
some distance from the shore, by the bad management of a 
ferryman, the boat began to take in water, the ferrymen became 
alarmed and let go their hold of the rope, and we were instantly 
floating down a deep and very rapid stream, without oars or 
poles, and with nothing but a hand spike or two on board. Find- 
ing our condition so dangerous, we endeavored to calm the agi- 
tation of the black ferrymen, who had been substituted for the 
regular Indian ferrymen; and, encouraged by our composure and 
the promise of a fee, we at last effected a landing on the same 
side from which we had started, and about one hundred and 
fifty yards below; but the feat was made with great difficulty 
and at the only point where a landing was practicable. We 
succeeded in getting the boat back to the starting place, and 
were finally put across the river after two hours of danger and 
detention. The bank was thronged with anxious spectators, 
who cordially welcomed us upon our safe arrival. 

"A part of the Creek Nation was then at war with our people 
and killed one of General Jackson's soldiers upon one of the 
nights we lay out and not far from us. We were informed of 
this fact by General Gaines, whom we met going into the Na- 
tion as we were leaving it. But the Lord helped and preserved 
us; and, after a toilsome and hazardous journey, we safely 
arrived at our beloved friend and brother's, Lusas's, in Sparta, 

Let the reader pause and think of a tour from Vermont to 
Middle Tennessee; thence, on horseback, through Indian tribes, 
to Louisiana; thence, amid drenching rains, over swollen streams, 
and through a hostile band of Indians, to Georgia; and this per- 
formed by a man advanced in life and infirm in health; and rec- 
ollect, this is but one of the many similar tours which our 
bishops took to carry out our system of itinerant general super- 
intendency. Such were the men and such the labors they en- 
dured for souls and for Christ's sake. 

His Journal proceeds: "At Sparta we were about sixty miles 
from the place where the Conference was to meet; and, having 
some spare time before us, I determined to rest and recruit my 
health and strength, while Brother Norton went to see his 
mother, after two years' absence. But the good people pre- 

218 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

vailed on me to be contented to rest the horses while they took 
me to popular meetings on the two following Sabbaths. After 
having given the horses nine days' rest, I set out with Brother 
Lewis Myers and visited Louisburg, about forty miles from the 
seat of the Conference, Savannah, and Charleston, and arrived 
at Augusta, Ga., the day before the Conference began, 1 making 
four hundred miles instead of forty. I had now visited the 
Mississippi Conference for Bishop Roberts, as I promised, in- 
tending, after our interview to return and visit the Churches in 
Illinois and be ready to take my course of work, commencing 
with the Ohio Conference. At the South Carolina Conference 
we had to manage some of the most delicate and eventful busi- 
ness. Bishop Roberts's assistance was greatly needed, especially 
as it was his special charge, according to our division of the work. 
But the distance to the Conference was greater than he expected, 
and, his horse failing, he did not arrive until the fifth day of the 
session. The important business was adjusted in a way satis- 
factory to Bishop Roberts; and we were well pleased at the re- 
sult, which was peace and brotherly love. This was Bishop 
Roberts's first visit; he knew neither the country nor the people, 
and therefore was desirous I should accompany him to Norfolk, 
to hold the Virginia Conference. But as this would add six hun- 
dred miles' traveling to my already excessive labors, I was not 
disposed to do so, and therefore took leave of him, and set out 
on my westward tour. But, reflecting on his situation a 
stranger to the way and the people, his horse with a sore back, 
and having barely time to get to the Conference after riding 
five miles I determined to return and accompany him, if he had 
not gone. I found him, and he was delighted. We started early 
next morning for Norfolk, Va. Our time on the trip was dili- 
gently improved, traveling from thirty to forty-five miles a day; 
rain did not stop us. Saturday we had our linen washed; Sab- 
bath preached; and thus we pushed on, and got to Norfolk the 
day before the Conference opened. The back of the Bishop's 
horse was well, and the preachers and people were glad to see 
us. Here we unexpectedly met with Bishop George, in good 
health, with Dr. Phoabus and his family, from New York. The 
Doctor had been appointed a missionary to New Orleans and 
was on his way there. The other bishops had not been con- 
sulted in this appointment. The Doctor was approved, the 
size and consequent expense of supporting his family being the 

l The Minutes show that this Conference was appointed to be held at 
Louisville, July 27, 1818, but it was held at Augusta. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 219 

only difficulty. It was supposed that a thousand dollars would 
hardly support him, and he was then without money to bear 
his traveling expenses. Bishop George requested me to under- 
take the management of this business, but I declined; loaned 
the Bishop one hundred dollars, and bound myself to raise five 
hundred dollars in the West for the support of the mission, if 
it should be carried into effect, provided my colleagues would 
raise the balance. Dr. Phoebus was sent back to New York, 
and the hundred dollars returned. The Conference closed with 
encouraging prospects and the 'preachers parted in love. I 
parted with my colleagues, and set out for the western country, 
being about one hundred and fifty miles farther from my ob- 
ject than when I returned to Bishop Roberts, in Georgia. I 
had the company of preachers from Norfolk to Lynchburg, but 
from there to Kentucky I traveled alone, leading my pack horse 
all the way. About the last of March, or the first of April, I 
arrived safely at my brother's residence, in Sumner County, 
Tenn. Having rested a few days, I took a young preacher with 
me and resumed my plan of visiting the Churches upon our 
frontier work. We passed through the southwest corner of 
Kentucky; crossed the Ohio River at Golconda; passed through 
the southern part of Illinois ; crossed the Mississippi River at Cape 
Girardeau, visiting the frontier Churches in Missouri, and in- 
tending to see the Churches about Boone's Lick, but sickness 
and high water induced me to stop with Brother Murphy. After 
a week's rest, I crossed the Merrimack and Missouri Rivers, 
and attended a camp meeting between the Missouri and the 
Mississippi Rivers, where I met Brother Walker, the presiding 
elder. Here we held a profitable camp meeting, which is the 
third I have attended since I crossed the Mississippi River. I 
had the pleasure of meeting many of my friends from the old 
States and of seeing the work of the Lord prospering in the new 
settlements. We then went to St. Louis ; crossed the Mississippi ; 
visited the Churches about Turkey Hill, Vincennes, the forks 
of White River, and the little towns on the way to Jefferson- 
ville. Here we crossed the Ohio to Louisville, Ky., where I had 
sent an appointment for preaching. They had made it a two 
days' meeting. I was pleased. The congregation was very 
large and the meeting good. The next appointment was in 
Shelbyville, Ky., about thirty miles distant. From there I 
visited Frankfort, Lexington, and Maysville, in Kentucky, and 
as many congregations between them as I could. From Mays- 
ville I crossed over into Ohio, to West Union, Chillicothe, New 

220 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Lancaster, Zanesville, Barnesville, Mount Pleasant to Steuben- 
ville, August 7, 1818. From Middlebury, June 3, 1817, to this 
place, I have traveled over a very large tract of country; my 
rides have been excessively hard, my ministerial services in 
Conferences, camp and quarterly meetings, added to visiting 
the Churches through the districts and circuits, have been abun- 
dant, and I am now feeling the effects in a manner heretofore 
unknown to me, and, instead of relaxation, my work is rather 
more rigorous. Here, according to our division, my course be- 
gins, and terminates at the Mississippi Conference. 

"The preachers met, and the Ohio Conference commenced 
its session at Steubenville, August 7, 1818. All the bishops were 
present, in health, and bore their part in the labors of the Con- 
ference. Joshua Soule, our Book Agent from New York, at- 
tended. Qur business was conducted in an orderly and proper 

"At the close of this Conference, my strength was so exhaust- 
ed that some of the preachers, especially Bishop Roberts and 
Brother Soule, objected to my attempting to pursue my plan 
of Conference visitation, but having lately visited the Missouri 
Conference extensively, and the preachers having voluntarily 
changed the seat of their Conference from Mount Zion Meeting- 
house, in Murphy's settlement, to a meetinghouse in the forks 
of White River, Ind., which saved several hundred miles riding, 
I concluded to proceed. I would gladly have accepted a sub- 
stitute for the Mississippi Conference, but the others were con- 
veniently situated. Bishop Roberts offered his services for the 
Mississippi Conference, but I thought his long absence from 
his family was a sufficient reason for me to decline his generous 

"I sustained the journey and the business of the Missouri 
and Tennessee Conferences much better than I expected. At 
the latter our spirit was troubled, and harmony interrupted by 
the conflicting subject of slavery." 

The Tennessee Conference, which began October 1, 1818, in 
Nashville, marks the time of the writer's acquaintance with 
Bishop McKendree and of his admission on trial as a traveling 
preacher. He had attended the previous session of the Con- 
ference in Franklin, and had traveled the Nashville Circuit the 
past year, under the employment of Thomas L. Douglass, the 
presiding elder of the dictrict, his colleague being Miles Harper. 
Nashville was then in the circuit, and as the Conference was 
held in his work, it afforded him an opportunity of becoming 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 221 

acquainted with all the preachers. Bishop McKendree was 
the only bishop present and was greatly admired and loved. 
The Conference held its session in an office or session room 
near the old Presbyterian Church. It was not the custom then 
to let anybody into the Conference room except the members. 
I remember there was "trouble" and want of "harmony" at 
that session, for as I and many others hung about the premises, 
we often saw the members come out of the Conference room 
with a sad countenance, and when they would meet a confiden- 
tial friend, a suppressed but earnest and sad conversation would 
take place, which indicated anxiety and sorrow. No one own- 
ing slaves could be admitted unless upon a promise to emanci- 
pate them. This was adopted as a rule of action by a large 
party in the Conference, although it could not always be carried 
into effect. But in most cases it was. Dr. Gilbert D. Taylor, 
a man in every respect eminently worthy, was refused admis- 
sion because he owned slaves, although he avowed his purpose 
to set them free, a purpose which he effected by taking them to 
the State of Pennsylvania, after having in vain memorialized 
the States of Tennessee and Alabama to allow him to emanci- 
pate them. Alas for his slaves! Their freedom was their mis- 

But let us follow the Bishop. "From this Conference I took 
John Seaton and Benjamin Edge with me for the Mississippi 
Conference and set out in good spirits. Being indisposed and 
intending to take Carroll's road, we stopped at the fork to spend 
the night, but learning we must go seven miles farther or lie in 
the woods the next night, we went forward . I became very much 
exhausted, and a little before we reached the stand / received a 
very uncommon shock. My whole system was affected, and es- 
pecially my head. I avoided falling from my horse by easing 
myself off. After resting on the grass awhile, I mounted, and 
went slowly to the Indian house where I expected to stay all 
night. From this place we went by short stages to the house of 
Brother Ford, where the Conference was held. On the first day 
of the session, October 29, 1818, 1 presided, but was exceedingly 
debilitated, owing mainly to my attack and partly to the error 
I committed in having blood taken and using an emetic. The 
second day, the little Conference of ten members met in my 
room. I was in bed, but the president pro tern, sat near my 
bedside, and the business of Conference was done properly. It 
was a camp meeting Conference, and on the Sabbath there was 
preaching on the camp ground. I was taken in a carriage to the 

222 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

camp ground, and lay on a bed near the stand during preaching, 
having been assisted to the place and supported by two preach- 
ers while performing the ordination. I was taken back immedi- 
ately by the kind and attentive physician to the house of Broth- 
er Ford. Monday morning the preachers met, received their 
appointments, and took an affectionate leave of each other, 
except Thomas Griffin, John Lane, and Benjamin Edge, who 
waited a few days to see the progress of my complaint. After 
I had endured the third shock, the doctor said I must not move 
shortly. Seaton went to his circuit, Edge stayed with me, and 
Brother Lane was to prepare the Minutes and take them to 
Conference in South Carolina to Bishop Roberts. 

"A few days decided my situation. I could not move. Broth- 
er Lane left me, but with one of the kindest families to be 
found. Every mark of attention was shown me, insomuch I 
was humbled under a sense of obligation to the whole family. 
Sister Ford was a mother indeed to me, and her daughters were 
nursing sisters. A colored lad voluntarily took to nursing me. 
He would lie by my bed at night and wake up at the slightest noise 
and was in every way the most attentive boy I ever saw. Broth- 
er Edge had been sent to a circuit, but left it to attend to me. 

"Some time in February I ventured to move, and by short 
stages reached Colonel Richardson's; was comfortably enter- 
tained there and at Brother Winans's, and especially at Judge 
McGehee's. In March, accompanied by Brother Winans, I 
ventured to visit New Orleans, to see the infant Church or 
mission there, and returned to my asylum in Wilkinson County. 
The physician advised his patient to leave that country before 
summer. For this purpose my esteemed friend, Judge McGehee, 
presented me with a light Jersey wagon, which was generously 
stored with provisions, and, accompanied by John Lane and 
Benjamin Edge, I left the State about the middle of April. 1 I 

*The following note, in the Bishop's own handwriting, has reference to 
this period of his life, and evinces his candor and humility. It shows, too, 
that it is possible to employ our time and talents faithfully and zealously 
in the work of God and yet be so oppressed and harassed with the details 
of Church business and the anxieties connected with a highly responsible 
position in the Church as to suffer loss in spirituality; so true is it that 
there is no substitute, not even working for Christ and his Church, which 
supersedes the absolute necessity of prayer, watchfulness, and daily com- 
munion with God through the Holy Comforter; in a word, a daily sense of 
personal religious fellowship with Christ must be maintained by all preach- 
ers and bishops, as well as private Christians, no matter how conscien- 
tiously in other respects they may give themselves to his work in order to 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 223 

think it was about ten days after we entered the Choctaw Na- 
tion that we crossed the Tennessee River. The stands were 
'few and far between'; and as we traveled too slowly to reach 
them, we lodged in the woods, stopping as weariness dictated. 
I think we camped out eight nights, but received no injury from 
it, indeed, the trip rather improved my health. The weather, 
however, was favorable, and we reached my brother's in Ten- 
nessee safely. 

"After resting a few weeks with my brother, I set out with 
Brother W. McMahon and wife for the Harrodsburg Springs, 
in Kentucky; lodged with Brother Head (then a warm friend 
of ours, but turned against us since) ; here I was comforted, and 
the water benefited me. Assisted from place to place, I visited 
my old friends, preached at times, attended camp meetings, and 
got to the Ohio Conference, in Cincinnati, August 7, 1819. 
Bishop George arrived in good health, and the preachers were 
well and in good spirits. 

"From the Ohio Conference I returned through Kentucky 
by slow and short movements to Fountain Head, in Tennessee. 
There Andrew Monroe, a representative to the ensuing General 
Conference, came to my assistance and kindly consented to con- 
tinue with me on my trip to Baltimore. We arrived in George- 
have the witness of their acceptance with God. So then we may decline 
in love and joy in the midst of the hardest labor and greatest sacrifices. 
Yea, we may give our bodies to be burned, and yet such zeal will not do 
without love to God. The Bishop says: 

" During this affliction I was brought to examine my life in relation to 
eternity closer than I had done when in the enjoyment of health. 'The 
spiritual and temporal business of the Church' has become so complicated, 
spread out over so vast a territory, and involves so many responsible and 
delicate official acts, that I have been almost constantly mentally em- 
ployed, and frequently greatly perplexed and distressed in its manage- 
ment. In this examination relative to the discharge of my duties toward 
my fellow creatures as a man, a Christian minister, and an officer of the 
Church, I stood approved by my own conscience, but in relation to my 
Redeemer and Saviour, the result was different. My returns of gratitude 
and loving obedience bear no proportion to my obligations for redeeming, 
preserving, and supporting me through the vicissitudes of life from infancy 
to old age. The coldness of my love to him 'who first loved me,' and has 
done so much for me, overwhelmed and confused me; and to complete my 
unworthy character, I had not only neglected to improve the grace given 
to the extent of my privilege and duty, but for want of that improvement 
had, while abounding in perplexing care and labor, declined from first love 
and zeal. I was confounded, humbled myself, implored mercy, and re- 
newed my covenant to strive and devote myself unreservedly to the Lord." 

224 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

town, D. C., before the Baltimore Conference adjourned. It 
began March 8, 1820. The brethren received us with live- 
ly expressions of gratitude to God for the preservation of my 
life." 1 

We have already seen that Bishop McKendree, while he was 
ill in Mississippi, sent the Minutes of the Conference by Brother 
Lane to meet Bishop Roberts at the South Carolina Conference. 
Brother Griffin also wrote to Bishop Roberts, informing him of 
the extreme prostration of Bishop McKendree. The following 
letter from Bishop Roberts will be read with interest, not only 
because of the fraternal love it breathes, but also because very- 
little of the composition of that excellent man has been pre- 

CAMDEN, S. C., December 30, 1818. 

Dear Bishop McKendree: With mingled emotions of sorrow and joy I 
received the information communicated by Brother Griffin's letter, sorrow 
to hear you are pressed down with a weight of afflictions so that you could 
not be present at this Conference, and joy to find from the same letter that 
you are on the recovery. may the great Head of the Church shortly re- 
store you to health, that you may go in and out before his people for many 
years ! 

Our Conference commenced at the time appointed. The members were 
generally present, and did their business with considerable dispatch. 
Thirteen were admitted on trial as candidates for the traveling ministry. 
Three of the number admitted last year found to be incompetent and were 
dropped; one departed this life namely, Absalom W. Phillips; and four- 
teen have located. So we have but a partial supply for the present year; 
but partial as it is, we have thought proper to send one (Alexander Talley) 
as a missionary to Alabama. 

I have just received a letter fron Brother Mark Moore, our missionary 
in New Orleans. He writes me that prospects are flattering. Have put 
three hundred and fifty dollars in the hands of Brother Lane to be applied 
to the support of that mission. Brother Lane tells me it is likely to be a 
very expensive one; but we must support it as well as we can. Any money 
I may collect for it, as I go on to the East, I will place in the hands of the 

J The Rev. Andrew Monroe, who is still an efiective and useful traveling preacher in the 
Missouri Codference, has kindly furnished an interesting account of this trip of a thousand 
miles. A part of this contribution is wanting: but we learn the Bishop, although very af- 
flicted and feeble, went on horseback from Tennessee to Lynchburg, where his friends pre- 
vailed on him to go the remainder of the route to Georgetown, D. C,, in a little carriage. 
Brother Monroe was delighted and edified with the conversation and example of his suffer- 
ing and heroic companion, nnd warmly eulogizes his character as a gentleman, a devout 
Christ ion, a wise man, and a model bishop. The Bishop devotes a few words only to this 
long and toilsome journey. It is regretted that the narrative of Mr. Monroe cannot be 
had, as the fragment of it contains some striking illustrations of the Bishop's character 
and manner of life. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 225 

Book Agents, and take a draft for the presiding elder of the Natchez Dis- 
trict, who, I understand, is one of the committee to superintend the New 
Orleans Mission. 

There were several letters in the post office here directed to you. I 
opened them all, and found they were mostly on business relating to the 
Conference. But three of them were from Ohio one from David Young, 
another from James Quinn, and the other from Moses Grume. There is a 
great work of religion in Brother Grume's district; and in the upper part 
of the State, with the exception of some parts of Brother Finley's district, 
all things seem to continue as they were. 

There is a good work going on in some parts of the Virginia and Balti- 
more Conferences. 

In this Conference the increase of whites last year does not exceed two 
hundred; and I think there is a decrease, taking the white and colored 
together. The Conference was, however, rich in funds and able to pay 
off all demands against it. 

My sheet is nearly full, and it is now past midnight; so I must close. My 
health is good, my mind tranquil, and I trust, my heart fixed to do the will 
of God. 

Yours affectionately, R. R. ROBERTS. 

Although Bishop McKendree had generously determined to 
make the tour to the Mississippi Conference, which resulted so 
disastrously to his health, rather than suffer Bishop Roberts 
to be so long from his family, yet Bishop Roberts with equal 
unselfishness was willing and ready to undertake it. The fol- 
lowing letter was written after the interview between them, in 
which the senior bishop had volunteered to do this work, and 
sometime before he had started on his journey: 

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO, August 11, 1818. 

Dear Bishop McKendree: May grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied 
to you and every gospel blessing be yours, in time and eternity! 

The reason of my troubling you with these few lines is to let you know 
that the thought of your going to the Mississippi Conference this fall 
afflicts my mind. If you say the word, I am still willing to go for you, and 
if you go yourself and the journey be too great for you and anything dis- 
agreeable should occur, these lines will bear me witness that I am not the 
cause and keep my conscience and character clear. 

I remain, as ever, yours in the bonds of the gospel, R. R. ROBERTS. 

Surprise has often been expressed at the good judgment man- 
ifested by Bishops Asbury and McKendree in the appointment 
of the preachers to their work; but while we give them credit 
for great sagacity in discerning the characters of men and in 

226 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

adapting the workmen to the work, it should be remembered 
that they visited the whole work annually, and that conse- 
quently they never lost sight of a preacher. The following 
memorandum, found among Bishop KcKendree's papers, may 
serve to explain this matter: 

"The characteristics of the persons admitted on trial in the 
Ohio Conference, A. D. 1818: 

"Samuel Adams. Married; a man of talents, though much 
cannot be expected from him, because of age and family. 

"James Smith. Single, young, pious, moderate abilities. 

"Charles Elliott. Single, young, good acquired abilities. 
He is a mathematician, a Greek and Latin scholar, also has a 
considerable knowledge of Hebrew. 

"G. R. Jones. Middle-aged, married, though prepared to 
travel a length of time; his usefulness promising. 

"L. Swormstedt. Single, about nineteen years of age, has 
more than ordinary abilities, has been genteelly raised, is pious 
and diligent in his studies. He promises great usefulness. 

"A. W. Elliott. Married, aged about thirty years, has a 
family of seven children, cannot go far from home, has useful 
abilities; a son of thunder." 

The Journal and the letters of Bishop McKendree show the 
high estimation in which this sagacious and good man held the 
talents and character of the late Bishop Emory while he was 
yet comparatively young and unknown and the strong mutual 
attachment which existed between them. 

John Emory was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, 
in 1789. His parents were intelligent, highly respected, and 
pious. His early indications of unusual mental activity and of 
strong convictions of moral obligation induced his father to 
give him a collegiate education. Following the wish of his 
father and the natural bent of his own mind, he became a stu- 
dent of law in 1805; and he embraced religion the year following. 
Shortly afterwards (in 1807), he was licensed as a local preacher, 
yet pursued his legal studies and became a practicing attorney. 
But in 1810, he resolved to abandon the law and give himself 
wholly to the work of the itinerant ministry. Providentially, 
about this time he met with Bishop McKendree, "accompa- 
nied him to Virginia, and thence back to the Philadelphia Con- 
ference." At this Conference (the venerable Asbury presiding) 
Mr. Emory, then just twenty-one years of age, was received 
on trial. 

It was thus the intimacy and attachment began between Bish- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 227 

op McKendree and Bishop Emory. What a blessing it was that 
the young Timothy had the privilege of associating with such 
a Paul in the beginning of his itinerant career! How invaluable 
to him was such an example of piety, prudence, and fidelity. 
The impression seems to have been indelible. 

In 1817, Mr. Emory was selected by the Bishop as his travel- 
ing companion on a tour of the continent, but on account of the 
unwillingness of his charge to give up their pastor, the Bishop 
consented for him to return, after having had his company 
through the Northern and Eastern Conferences. Having been 
stationed the two preceding years in Washington City, he was 
elected a delegate to the General Conference of 1820. It will 
be seen that in this body he dissented from the views of the 
Bishop and the majority upon the presiding elder question; and 
although in the general excitement which grew out of the pro- 
ceedings upon this subject a degree of coolness occurred between 
him and his old friend, yet he was appointed unanimously by the 
bishops a delegate from the American General Conference to 
the British Conference. Having acquitted himself most hon- 
orably, both to himself and the body he represented, in adjust- 
ing the difficulties which had sprung up between these two great 
divisions of the Wesleyan family in reference to Canada, and 
having impressed our trans-Atlantic brethren very favorably, 
he soon returned to the United States and resumed his labors 
as a traveling preacher. 

The following letter shows the cordial correspondence which 
was kept up between Mr. Emory and the Bishop and is in reply 
to one he had just received from the Bishop. It awakens some 
pleasant and melancholy reminiscences: 

WASHINGTON, April 29, 1819. 

Reverend and Dear Sir: Your favor of October 5 last, from Nashville, 
was dully received and would have been long since answered if I had 
known where to address you. 

It was with much concern that I heard of the arduous and dangerous 
journey which you then meditated, notwithstanding your infirmities, the 
effect of which we were but too sensibily apprised of by your absence from 
our late Conference. I was not present when Bishop Roberts informed 
the Conference of the cause of your absence (not having then arrived), 
but he had the goodness, afterwards, to show me your letter to him, from 
which it affords me much satisfaction to learn that you had so far recovered 
as to be able to ride. That you may be speedily restored and permitted 
to visit us again is not only my prayer, but I doubt not of many in this 
part of your extensive charge. 

Our Annual Conference, on the whole, was an agreeable one. The in- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

crease in our numbers was said to be about two thousand. In this station 
(in which I am continued), I think our prospect is still pleasing. The 
congregation is large, respectable, and seriously attentive, and our numbers 
have increased from 133 (the number returned by Brother Burch) to over 
170 whites and 48 or 50 colored. Brother Roszel is our presiding elder, we 
being now attached to the Baltimore District; Brother John Davis, in 
Georgetown; Monroe, at the' Navy Yard, and J. Wells in Alexandria. 

It will give me much pleasure to hear from you, if you can at any time 
find leisure enough to write me a few lines, if it be only to inform me how 
and where you are. 

My wife, although not personally acquainted with you, yet begs me to 
assure you of her affectionate regards, of which, I must tell you, she has 
given a mother's proof in expressing a particular wish that you should 
have baptized our little son had you been at our Conference, as was ex- 
pected. She calls him John; he is now eight weeks old. My Robert, who 
is a well-grown, hearty boy, is not now with me, but I expect to have him 
this summer. Pardon me, sir, for this family digression. A stranger 
might think I was forgetting myself in writing thus to you, but you will 

We hope for an interest in your prayers, and be assured I remain, as 
ever, respectfully and effectionately your son in the gospel, J. EMORY. 

P. S. The Baltimore Conference has authorized the publication of 
Bishop Asbury's "Life," if approved of by the committee, of which I have 
the honor to be one. Dr. Jennings gives us hope of having the manu- 
script soon. They have also authorized the publication of Bishop Asbury's 

The difference in opinion between the Bishop and Dr. Emory 
alluded to, as it involved no loss of confidence in each other's 
integrity, was not permitted to quench their esteem or affection. 
Its effects were temporary. Upon the first opportunity that 
presented itself after his return from England, an interview 
between them took place in which they interchanged sentiments 
on the presiding elder question. On the next day, Bishop 
McKendree sent him the following note: 

SHARPSBURG, July 13, 1822. 

Dear Brother: The friendly conversation which you introduced yester- 
day had for its object the perpetuation of that confidence and harmony 
by which we have been so long united and was therefore pleasing to me. 
I am cordially disposed to meet your advances in the accomplishment of 
so desirable an object. Nothing short of sin gives me so much pain as to 
see and feel declension in Christian fellowship. Situated as we are, to 
understand each other is of vital importance. For this purpose your at- 
tention is invited to the following particulars, in order to know whether 
I understand you correctly, and if not, I hope you will correct me: 

1. I understood you to say, in different parts of our conversation: "It 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 229 

is to be presumed that the General Conference will not knowingly pass an 
unconstitutional law." 

2. " That the bishops have no right to decide against the decisions of the 
General Conference; therefore, if all the bishops believe an act of the Gen- 
eral Conference to be unconstitutional, they are bound to submit to the 
superior judgment of the General Conference and carry the act or resolu- 
tion into effect." 

3. A decision on the constitutionality of an act and carrying the reso- 
lution into effect have exclusive reference to the understanding and judg- 
ment of the executive, conscience has nothing to do with it. 

Are the following sentiments [being those the Bishop had expressed] 
correct? If not, please to point out the errors: 

1. "The executive authority, or the power by which the bishops are en- 
abled to oversee the spiritual anf temporal business of our Church, consists 
in the power of appointing and controlling the preachers, especially the 
presiding elders." 

2. The suspended resolutions transfer the power of constituting the 
presiding elders from the bishops to the Annual Conferences and invest 
them with executive authority. 

A direct and plain answer will oblige your old, sincere, and aggrieved 
friend, W. MCKENDREE. 

P. S. The above is intended in perfect accordance with the principles 
of confidence and brotherly love. 

It is a matter of regret that we have not been able to find Dr. 
Emory's reply to these questions, which was doubtless alike 
honorable to his head and his heart. We know, however, that 
without a disavowal on the part of either of them of the senti- 
ments they had entertained, their former intimacy was renewed 
and that their mutual esteem continued to the end of their lives. 
Perhaps the crisis which had then arrived in the history of the 
Church and which tested the fealty of her sons hastened a re- 
union which had never extended to a loss of esteem. In that 
struggle which was, even in 1822, already beginning, Dr. 
Emory, with many others who had differed from Bishop McKen- 
dree and the majority in 1820, was found doing valiant and ef- 
fective service by the side of the faithful old Bishop in endeav- 
oring to preserve the Church they loved from the evils of rad- 
icalism. The writer can never forget the effect produced upon 
the General Conference and an immense number of spectators 
by the reading of his report as chairman of the Committee on 
Lay Representation at the session of 1828. It was a masterly 
and overwhelming defense of our economy. Indeed, so clear, 
so strong, and yet so kind and conciliatory was it, that the Rev. 
Asa Shinn, one of the leaders of the reformers, rose immediately 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

after Dr. Emory had closed and moved its adoption and the 
printing of five thousand copies. It is due also to others to say 
that many of those who, with Dr. Emory, had favored the 
adoption of the suspended resolutions, were, like him, found to 
be faithful and true to the Church in the day of her trial. And, 
in the language of his biographer, his own worthy and lamented 
son: "When, in 1832, Bishop KcKendree, then rapidly hasten- 
ing to the termination of his long and honorable career, learned 
that Mr. Emory had been elected as his colleague in the epis- 
copate, he sent for him to come to his lodgings, and, as he en- 
tered the room, the venerable man, rising to meet him, ex- 
claimed, 'Bishop Emory, John Emory, come to my arms!' and, 
with an affectionate embrace, welcomed him to his new office." 

Bishop McKendree did not confound the advocates of the 
suspended resolutions with radicals, and it were unjust to do so. 

Dr. Emory, although not a member of the General Conference 
of 1824, was its Secretary, and was elected Book Agent, a post 
which he filled with distinguished success until he was made 
bishop in 1832. 

Although but partially known at the South, having made but 
one tour of the Southern Conferences, yet such was the high 
estimate of his character that several literary institutions in 
this section of the country bear his name and many a sympa- 
thizing heart mourned over his untimely death. Indeed, such 
was the influence which he seemed likely to obtain over the 
whole Church that it has often been said if Bishop Emory and 
Dr. Fisk had lived until 1844 the separation of the Church 
might not then have occurred. 


General Conference of 1820 Address of Bishop McKendree Authorized 
to travel at his discretion A bishop to be elected J. Soule elected 
Presiding elder question Positions of the bishops "Compromise" or 
"peace measure" Soule desires leave to decline McKendree's state- 
ment Facts Powers of General and Annual Conferences and bishops 
Soule's letter Bishops confer Prepare to ordain Soule The resolu- 
tions suspended Bishop McKendree's appeal to the Annual Confer- 
ences Precedent for it Soule declines His reasons The other bish- 
ops to do the work next four years Bishop McKendree troubled, but 
resolves to do what he can Gets to Tennessee Conference. 

THE General Conference which met in Baltimore May 1, 1820, 
was composed of eighty-nine delegates from the eleven Annual 
Conferences and was a very important session. By the meas- 
ures it adopted, it gave a new impulse to the educational enter- 
prises of the Church, organized the Missionary Society, estab- 
lished the system of District Conferences for local preachers, and, 
after having for many years left the Annual Conferences to 
manage the subject of slavery under the General Rule clause as 
they might severally think best, again resumed the task of legis- 
lating for the whole Church upon this subject. But the prin- 
cipal topic of excitement was the presiding elder question and 
the consequences growing out of the action of the Conference 
upon this subject. 

The Conference was opened by Bishop McKendree in the 
usual manner, his colleagues, Bishops George and Roberts, be- 
ing present. He also gave a written address stating his views 
of the condition of the Church and suggesting such subjects for 
their consideration as he deemed the interests of the work re- 
quired. Oral communications were also made by the other 
bishops, and they expressed the conviction that in view of the 
declining health of the senior bishop and the great extension of 
the work the episcopacy should be strengthened by the addition 
of another bishop. Committees were accordingly appointed 
to consider and report upon the various important themes of 
their addresses. 

Here we are again reminded that we are indebted to Bishop 
McKendree for the custom of presenting a written episcopal 
quadrennial address to the General Conference and the reference 

232 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of the topics contained in it to appropriate committees, a course 
which is likely to be followed. 

The following is the address of Bishop McKendree, a copy of 
which Dr. Bangs says he regrets he was not able to find and is 
perhaps the only copy extant: 

To the General Conference to be held in Baltimore, May, 1820. 

Dear Brethren: Through sore affliction for more than eighteen months, 
my regular course of traveling and my ministerial labors have been inter- 
rupted; but in the deepest bodily distress the Lord has mercifully sup- 
ported me, and by his graciously supporting hand I am brought to see the 
opening of another General Conference. 

So far as I can judge for myself, the burden which I have been accus- 
tomed to bear is too heavy for my present strength, and I can scarcely hope 
that I shall be able soon, if ever, to do as I have done. I am disposed, 
however, to do what I can. 

It is probable that excessive labor contributed much to my affliction. 

Friends foresaw and premonished me of the danger; but I acted under a 
sense of duty, was supported by a pure intention, and have no cause to 
reproach myself. 

I am deeply sensible of my lack of talents to render the service which so 
good a cause and the important station to which I am appointed continu- 
ally require, and I am well prepared to submit to the dispensation in hope 
of seeing the mighty task more amply performed. 

Many have been my imperfections and errors; and no doubt I should 
have committed more but for the aid of friends, whose council came to the 
help of the Lord. For well-timed support, as well as for the comforts re- 
ceived from the Lord and his people, I desire to be unfeignedly thankful. 

As my labors have been restricted, my knowledge of the state of things 
in many places must be imperfect. To my worthy colleages, therefore, 
whose privilege it has been to travel extensively, I must look to supply 
the deficiences of my address. 

From 1784 to 1808 the General Conference was composed of all the 
traveling preachers who had fulfilled the requisite probation. The preach- 
ers, who met according to appointment, whether many or few, considered 
themselves invested with full power to correct, alter, or change the Disci- 
pline at pleasure; and our system of government passed the scrutinizing ex- 
amination of five such Conferences. 

The General Conference of 1808, satisfied with the principles and utility 
of the system, constituted a delegated Conference, and by constitutional 
restrictions ratified and perpetuated our system of doctrines and dicipline 
and the rights and privileges of all the preachers and members; in a word, 
all the essential parts of the system of government. It is presumed that 
no radical change can be made for the better at present. 

An important advantage resulting from the present state of things is the 
power which, through the responsibility of the general superintendents, 
the General Conference derives to regulate or correct an improper admin- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 233 

istration, to enforce the rules, and to carry the whole system of our itiner- 
ant ministry into complete effect. This is undoubtedly the dictate of 
wisdom and evinces the indispensable necessity of an effective general 

The increase since the last General Conference, according to the Min- 
utes, is 108 traveling preachers and 29,759 members, probably in all not 
less than 3,800 traveling and local preachers and 240,924 members. And 
eight of eleven Annual Conferences have produced an increase of 69 travel- 
ing preachers and 16,331 members for the next return. 

But the utility of our ministry and plan of spreading the gospel is not 
confined to our own Church. Our example and labors have a beneficial 
influence upon other denominations. It must be admitted that many who 
were formerly opposed, not only to our traveling ministry and the doctrines 
which are denominated Methodist doctrines, but also to that experimental 
and practical religion which is supported by the direct witness of the Spirit 
and for which we contend, are now warm advocates for missionary preach- 
ers and speak favorably of virtue and piety and even imitate us in many 
things. Thus the propriety of our system is admitted, and in this I do re- 
joice and will rejoice. 

To what can this astonishing change be attributed with more proba- 
bility than to the beneficial influence of the example of the Methodist min- 
istry on other denominations? 

Whilst we on our part cheerfully follow the laudable activity of many 
who are engaged in the important work of obtaining the requisite means 
and of instructing the ignorant, let us carefully guard against and avoid the 
destructive doctrine and example of those who stop short of experimental 
religion and who content themselves with literary and moral attainments, 
who have not that faith which works by love and purifies the heart and 
have but a name to live while they are dead. 

To you who observe the lives of professors and the superficial manner 
in which Christian experience is treated by some and who try all by that 
saying, "By their fruits ye shall know them," this will not appear a severe 

The influence of the rich, the great, the learned, the powerful, and nu- 
merous friends, who have embarked in the defense and circulation of the 
Bible, in connection with missionaries, to bear the glad tidings to the 
heathen abroad and to the destitute at home, at once confounds the op- 
poser and emboldens the feeble advocate of truth. 

When the Church is thus honored, many press into her service and par- 
take of her advantages without counting the cost or partaking of her real 

The desirable intimacy which subsists among different denominations, 
the terms of admitting persons of various education and sentiments, and 
the danger of being injured by the influence of men, especially of men of 
the world professing religion, will suggest the propriety of a strict exami- 
nation of our administration both as it respects doctrines and discipline and 
experimental and practical religion. 

234 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

It should not be surprising if among so many preachers and people thus 
situated you will find a deficiency in experimental or practical religion or 
in the use of the means. 

Among so many, should some, for purposes of profit or ease or honor 
require, as in days of old, an injurious change in our well-tried and ap- 
proved system of government, their misguided wishes, it is hoped, will be 
overruled by your wisdom and prudence to whose patronage this inval- 
uable treasure is so confidently committed. 

"God forbid," said St. Paul, "that I should glory, save in the cross of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto 
the world." Influenced by this principle, we may desire the best gifts 
and ought to support profitable offices. 

An effective general superintendency is essentially necessary to our 
itinerant plan of preaching the gospel. One of your superintendents is 
unable to do the work of an effective man; you will therefore see the pro- 
priety of strengthening the episcopacy. 

Your attention is called to the rule which at the last General Conference 
was formed to prevent the distilling of spirituous liquors, and it may be 
proper for you to examine our relation to the subject of slavery, particu- 
larly in reference to the transfer of power to make rules and regulations 
respecting the buying and selling of slaves. 

The regulations which concern the state of our meetinghouses may like- 
wise need your attention. 

To perpetuate a living and respectable ministry, both traveling and 
local, is of the utmost importance. More attention to the qualifications 
of candidates for the local as well as the traveling ministry, by examina- 
tion before a judicious committee or by other means, might have a good 

The acquisition of territory, the extension of settlements, and the form- 
ing of new circuits may call your attention to the boundary lines of some of 
the Conferences. 

Perhaps we have not paid sufficient attention to the voice of Providence 
calling to a more general as well as a more detached spread of the gospel 
among the Indians and among the destitute of our cities and of many re- 
mote and scattered settlements. The means have always been within our 
reach, as appears from the success of mite collections, of town and country 
missions, and of missionary and Bible societies all of which are but im- 
provements on Mr. Wesley's system of penny collections for the spread of 
the gospel. At this moment your attention is emphatically called to this 
subject by an address from the Wyandotte Indians requesting us to send 
missionaries among them, by the wants of thousands of uninstructed souls 
in the cities, towns, and cottages of our widely extended country, and by 
societies already formed with a design to raise money for such purposes. 

Our children, who are partially instructed, and the thousands of unin- 
structed children, who, though not of us, yet are completely within our 
reach, have an undoubted claim on our attention. Great and wonderful 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 235 

things might be done for the rising generation by a strict, consistent, and 
persevering attention. 

Had we an enlarged and doctrinal catechism and were this duly used to 
train the children of the Methodists so as to establish them in the religion 
of their fathers; were proper pains taken to invite the children of those who 
constitute our congregations to partake of these benefits; were families 
more diligently sought out by our preachers, class leaders, and active 
young men and women and solicited to unite in the good work of saving 
their children by these and such like means as your wisdom under God 
may devise, the rising generation may be made early to see the danger and 
vanity of the wealth and splendor of the world and to appreciate the dignity 
and happiness of true godliness and intellectual worth. The children of the 
Methodists would no more withdraw from the good cause of God to lend 
their influence to support institutions and opinions from which their an- 
cestors thought it their duty to retire; and many who without this care 
might become the curse of their country would be raised up to be strong 
pillars in the house of God. 

The "Life of Bishop Asbury," which, in consequence of affliction and 
a press of business, was not proposed to the last General Conference, is 
now in a state of forwardness and is recommended to your patronage. 

Accept, dear brethren, the affectionate assurance of my love in the gos- 
pel, and my fervent prayers for your prosperity and peace. 


The Committee on the Episcopacy brought forward a re- 
port pretty early in the session approving the administration 
of the bishops during the past four years, and adding: 

"In relation to strengthening the episcopacy, they have re- 
garded with deep and affectionate concern the declining health 
and strength of our senior superintendent. Worn down by 
long, extensive, and faithful labors in the service of God and 
the Church, your committee feel a solicitude which they doubt 
not is equally felt by the Conference that every practicable pro- 
vision may be made for his relief and comfort, hoping by a pru- 
dent relaxation from labor for a time the Church may yet be 
blessed with the benefit of his very desirable services and coun- 

Dr. Bangs adds: "Whereupon the following resolutions were 
submitted by the committee, and concurred in by the Con- 

" ' 1. That it is the wish and desire of this General Conference 
that Bishop McKendree, during his afflictions and debility, 
should travel in such directions and remain in such places as he 
may judge most conducive to his own health.and comfort, and 

236 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

that he be accordingly, at the close of the Conference, respect- 
fully and affectionately requested so to do. 

"'2. That whenever Bishop McKendree shall think himself 
able, it is the desire of this Conference that he should continue, 
so far as his health will permit, the exercise of his episcopal 
functions and superintending care. 

" '3. That the committee appointed by the last General Con- 
ference to make provision for the families of the bishops are 
hereby continued, and that the same committee be directed to 
take into consideration the present state of Bishop McKendree's 
health and to provide for defraying any extra expenses which, 
in their judgment, his afflictions may make requisite.'" 

These resolutions, so expressive of sympathy and affectionate 
esteem, were duly appreciated by the Bishop, and were remem- 
bered with grateful feelings in many an hour of subsequent 
suffering. They were as honorable to the Conference as they 
were kind and complimentary to him. 

This committee further reported, on May 9, that (in view of 
the declining health of the senior bishop and the increase of trav- 
el and labor which would devolve upon the superintendents) 
"it is expedient that one additional general superintendent be 
elected and ordained at this General Conference," which was 
adopted by the Conference. And it was on "Saturday morn- 
ing, May 13, moved, etc., that the Conference will now pro- 
ceed to the election of a general superintendent. Carried. Re- 
solved, etc., that before we proceed to act on the above reso- 
lution, the Conference go to prayer. Carried. Brother Gar- 
rettson gave out a few verses of a hymn and then prayed. The 
roll was called to ascertain who was absent, and it appeared 
that the only one absent was Loring Grant, who was sick. In 
conducting the election, two persons viz., S. G. Roszel and D. 
Ostrander were appointed to receive the votes. On receiving 
and counting the votes, it appeared that there were 88 votes, and 
that Joshua Soule of this number had 47 votes; Nathan Bangs 
had 38. There were three scattering votes. Joshua Soule was 
declared duly elected to the office of Bishop." l 

The events which followed almost immediately upon this 
election were so important in themselves and so connected with 
Bishop McKendree's life that his biographer hopes to be ex- 
cused for narrating them with more than ordinary minuteness 
and detail. His authorities for his statements are reliable man- 
uscripts and published documents. 

1 Extracts from the Journal. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 237 

Before the Conference had elected the bishop, the presiding 
elder question, as it is called, had been, as usual, introduced. 
From the very organization of the Church there had always 
been some members in every General Conference who were de- 
sirous of modifying or taking away altogether the power of 
stationing the preachers by the bishops. Mr. O'Kelly's seces- 
sion turned, professedly, upon the rejection of his motion in the 
General Conference of 1792 to give every preacher an appeal 
to his Annual Conference from the appointment of the bishop. 
In 1800 attempts were made to restrict the power of the bishops. 
In 1808, as we have seen, while the constitution of the dele- 
gated General Conference was under consideration, an attempt 
was made to render the office of presiding elder elective by the 
Annual Conferences. At the General Conference of 1812, 
this question was brought forward by a member of the New 
York Conference, and all the delegates from the New York, 
Philadelphia, and Genesee Conferences voted for it. The ma- 
jority against it was greatly reduced, being only three, the 
Southern and Western Conferences having defeated it. "In 
1816, the same fate attended a similar motion, although one of 
the bishops (George) elected at that Conference was known to 
be favorable to the proposed change in the mode of selecting 
the presiding elders." ' The plan of 1816 was that the bishop 
should nominate and the Conference elect. If the nominee of 
the bishop should be rejected, he was to nominate two others, 
one of whom the Conference should appoint. Those thus ap- 
pointed were to remain in office four years, unless dismissed by 
the mutual consent of the Conference and the bishop. The pre- 
siding elders, moreover, were to constitute a council to assist 
the bishop in stationing the preachers. This was rejected by a 
vote of 38 ayes and 63 nays. 

"Early in the second week of the General Conference of 1820, 
T. Merritt, of New England, seconded by B. Waugh, of Balti- 
more, moved so to amend the Discipline that the answer to the 
first question in Section 5 of Chapter I, 'By whom are the presid- 
ing elders to be chosen? ' should read as follows : ' Ans. By the Con- 
ferences.' After considerable discussion (twenty-one speaking, 
thirteen in favor of the motion), Ezekiel Cooper moved that it 
lie on the table, to bring forward one that he supposed would 
be accommodating to both parties, which was that the bishops 
should nominate three times the number of presiding elders 
wanted, out of. which number the Conference should choose 

l "Bangs's History of the Methodist Episcopal Church," Vol. II, p. 333. 

238 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

or elect the number necessary. After considerable debate, a 
motion was brought forward by William Capers, seconded by 
N. Bangs, that a committee consisting of three from each side 
should be appointed, to confer with the bishops on the subject. 
This motion prevailed; the committee was appointed, Bishop 
George then in the chair. On the side of the alteration in the 
government Ezekiel Cooper, John Emory, and Nathan Bangs 
were appointed. On the side of our present form of government 
S. G. Roszel, Joshua Wells, and W. Capers were appointed. 

"The committee met the bishops, and after conferring with 
them, came to no agreement, but appointed to meet next morn- 
ing. Roszel, Wells, Bangs, and Capers were in time, the others 
not appearing, nothing was done. When the Conference ad- 
journed, at twelve o'clock, Bishop George desired the committee 
to meet him in the gallery of the Eutaw Church. We met ac- 
cordingly. Mr. Cooper, in bringing forward his motion, had ob- 
served it met with his (the Bishop's) approbation, and, if I am 
not mistaken, said, in fact, it was the Bishop's motion. Mr. 
Merritt then stated that he held in his hand a note from Bishop 
George, stating that all hope of an accommodation was at an 
end. Some on the old side felt their minds afflicted, considering 
themselves forsaken by Bishop George. In the gallery, he 
went into an explanation, which, as it respected the note men- 
tioned by Brother Merritt, appeared different from the views 
it presented when Merritt mentioned it, but stated he was in 
favor of the accommodating plan, and that he could not see the 
principle was affected or changed by its adoption. After con- 
siderable details, in which Mr. Cooper stated he understood 
him correctly, and cordially agreed with him, S. G. Roszel ob- 
served, after all that was said, he must confess he did not under- 
stand him, and wished him to be so minute in detail that he 
could not be misunderstood, and asked Bishop George, ' Do you 
mean that if six more presiding elders are wanted, you are to 
nominate three times the number and the Conference to elect 
or choose out of that number? or do you mean that you nom- 
inate three, and the Conference choose one out of the three 
nominated, until the number necessary be obtained?' He re- 
plied that that was his meaning i. e., the last-named plan. 
On that principle the committee united, those members in favor 
of the old rules having assurances that nothing more would be 
required. The report was written by John Emory and signed 
by all the members, and at the afternoon sitting was brought 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 239 

forward and passed by Conference, 61, I think, voting for it." x 
The following is the report mentioned above: 

TUESDAY, May 19, 3 O' Clock. 

The committee appointed to confer with the bishops on a plan to con- 
ciliate the wishes of the brethren on the subject of choosing presiding elders 
recommend to the Conference the adoption of the following resolutions, 
to be inserted in their proper place in the Discipline: 

Resolved, That whenever, in any Annual Conference, there shall be a 
vacancy or vancancies in the office of presiding elder in consequence of his 
period of service of four years having expired or the bishop wishing to re- 
move any presiding elder, or by death, resignation, or otherwise, the bishop 
or president of the Conference, having ascertained the number wanted 
from any of these causes, shall nominate three times the number, out of 
which the Conference shall elect by ballot, without debate, the number 
wanted; provided, that when there are more than one wanted, not more 
than three at a time shall be nominated nor more than one at a time shall 
be elected; provided also, that in case of any vacancy or vacancies in the 
office of presiding elder in the interval of any Annual Conference, the bish- 
ops shall have authority to fill such vacancy or vacancies until the ensuing 
Annual Conference. 

Resolved, That the presiding elders be, and they hereby are, made the 
advisory council of the bishop or bishops, or president of the Conference, 
in stationing the preachers. 


"Great joy was expressed at this union. All now were in fel- 
lowship, if words could be taken as evidence. Many in favor 
of the old rule did not vote for it, and, being very uneasy, wished 
it reconsidered. 

"A few days afterwards, Bishop McKendree came forward 
and stated his objections to the rule adopted, and had read in 
the Conference a letter from Joshua Soule, bishop elect. To 
the sentiments of Bishop McKendree and Mr. Soule those in 
favor of a change took exceptions, held a caucus without con- 
sulting those not in favor of the change, and agreed to arrest 
the ordination of J. Soule. Those originally in favor of the old 
rule (but who had agreed to the compromise for the sake of 
peace and union) considered themselves no longer bound by 
any agreement on accommodation measures. A motion was 
made to reconsider the vote on the election of presiding elders, 
and while this was under consideration, J. Soule, understanding 

l Extracts from a manuscript, " Statement of the Proceedings of the Gen- 
eral Conference of 1820, by a Member." 

240 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

he was to be publicly opposed, came forward and by letter asked 
liberty to resign. The subject of his resignation was taken up, 
and, at the instance of S. G. Roszel, it was postponed until 
next morning. On the motion before mentioned, to reconsider, 
there was a tie vote 43 to 43 Bishop Roberts refusing to give 
the casting vote. 

"A motion was then brought forward to suspend the reso- 
lutions making the presiding elders elective until the next Gen- 
eral Conference. This motion prevailed 45 for, and 34 against 

"Brother Soule's resignation was then taken up, and 'S. G. 
Roszel moved that Brother Soule be, and hereby is, respectfully 
requested to withdraw his resignation, and submit to the wishes 
of his brethren in being ordained a bishop.' This prevailed, 49 
voting for it. When this was stated by Bishop George to J. 
Soule, he still stated his wish to resign; upon which James Quinn 
remarked, 'We cannot accept or receive his resignation'; and 
no vote was taken on it. Permission, therefore, was not given 
him by vote of the Conference to resign. Of course he stands 
bishop elect. 

"After Brother Soule's wish to resign, Bishop George ob- 
served to S. G. Roszel, privately, that the Conference must 
elect another bishop, for they could not cover the work, Bishop 
McKendree not being effective. S. G. Roszel replied that we, 
the majority, will vote for no one but Brother Soule. Then, 
said Bishop George, you will compel us to resign. The reply 
was: 'We had rather have no bishop than one we cannot confide 
in.' On Friday before the Conference adjourned, Bishop George 
observed to S. G. Roszel that Brother Soule would now serve; 
that he believed many of the minority would vote for him; that 
he had been talking with Bangs and Redding. Bishop George 
then notified the Conference that they must meet next morning 
and elect a bishop, and that he could be ordained the Sabbath 
following. That evening the minority had a meeting, and 
came to a determination to address Bishops George and Roberts, 
requesting them to decline having another bishop appointed. 
This address Bishop Roberts showed to S. G. Roszel after the 
Conference adjourned. On Saturday morning, when the Con- 
ference had met, Bishop George stated that, as it was a late pe- 
riod of the session, and the minds of some were much afflicted, 
they had thought proper to advise not to elect a bishop at this 
time, but the majority could do as they thought proper. Broth- 
ers Capers and Wells brought forward a motion to elect a bishop, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 241 

etc.; but, after some observations made by Bishop George, it 
was withdrawn. S. G. Roszel renewed it. Bishop George beck- 
oned him to come to him in the altar, and asked him to with- 
draw it, that the minority would not agree to it, or would break 
off, or something to that effect. It was withdrawn." 1 

The above statement was made for the information of Bishop 
McKendree, who, as will appear, was unwell and out of the city. 
The author was not only a member of the Conference, but of the 
committee who conferred with the bishops and reported the 
resolutions, which afterwards were known as the suspended res- 
olutions. The reader will readily identify him; and, of course, 
his statement is reliable. Bishop McKendree filed it away and 
kept it very carefully. 

We subjoin the following statement from Bishop McKendree's 
Journal, in reference to these transactions: 

"The superintendents requested the General Conference to 
give them the assistance of another bishop. The request was 
granted, the Rev. Joshua Soule was elected, and the day of his 
consecration was fixed by the bishops, and announced in the 
Conference. On account of his health, the senior bishop then 
went into the country until the time should arrive. After this, 
the question of transferring the power of appointing the pre- 
siding elders from the bishops to the Annual Conferences was 
taken up and warmly discussed. This would so manifestly 
effect a radical change in our system of government that it be- 
came pretty evident the motion would be lost; yet the debate 
was protracted until the time fixed for the consecration was 
fast approaching. The bishop elect was known to be in favor 
of the constitutional system of government. When the senior 
returned, in expectation of attending to the ordination, he was 
informed that Bishop George had postponed it, and consequent- 
ly preparation for the ordination had not been made. At this 
late hour the Conference appointed a committee to consult 
with the bishops on this momentous subject. The bishop elect 
was precluded from this consultation by the delicacy of his po- 
sition. The senior bishop disapproved of the proposed change; 
the other two were favorable to some change, the extent not 
pointed out. At the adjournment of the first session of the Con- 
ference on the next day, Bishop George invited the committee 
who had waited on the bishops, consisting of three from each 
side, to meet him. In this meeting the proposition before the 

^Extract from a manuscript " Statement of the Proceedings of the Gen- 
eral Conference of 1820, by a Member." 


242 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Conference was so changed as to authorize the bishops, when a 
presiding elder should be wanted, to nominate three persons, 
one of whom should be chosen presiding elder by the Conference." 

When the Conference met again, the long-protracted sub- 
ject was presented in this new dress as "a compromise," "a 
peace measure," and with but little if any examination was 

This decision seriously affected the senior bishop; forasmuch 
as he did conscientiously believe that it was a violation of the 
constitution, that a principle was ceded by virtue of which the 
members of the Church might be deprived of their constitu- 
tional rights, and the itinerant system of government entirely 
changed contrary to the constitution. 

Originally, the itinerant preachers exercised unrestricted pow- 
ers; but they saw proper, in their wisdom, to constitute a dele- 
gated General Conference, invested with such powers as the 
preachers collectively deemed necessary to perform the duties 
assigned it. Their powers were expressed. What is not expressed 
is, consequently, withheld. From the same authority the bishops 
derive their powers and the preachers and members their rights 
and privileges. And by virtue of the same authority, arising 
out of our compact, the powers and rights of the delegated 
Conference, the bishops, the preachers, and the members are 
secured by "the Limitations and Restrictions," otherwise called 
the Constitution of our Church. 

By the same authority i. e., the convention of the preachers 
in 1808 the bishops were made amenable to the General Con- 
ference for their conduct as general superintendents for the 
spiritual and temporal business of the Church. To discharge the 
duties assigned them and stand justly amenable as overseers, 
they are authorized to choose the presiding elders, to appoint the 
preachers to their work, "and, in the intervals of the Con- 
ference, to change," etc. But the delegated Conference, by 
these resolutions, attempted: 

1. To divest the bishops of a power which they held by the 
same authority which created that body and conferred its pow- 

2. To invest the bishops with power to nominate persons for 
presiding elders. 

3. To invest the Annual Conferences with power to elect pre- 
siding elders, all of which are unknown to our form of Discipline, 
to the Constitution of the Church, and to Episcopal Methodism. 

It follows, from our view of this subject: 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 243 

1. That by the same authority by which the Conferences 
divest the bishops of the right of choosing the presiding elders, 
they may deprive the preachers and members of their rights of 
trial and appeal, etc., and of any of their privileges as members 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church. 

2. As the General Conference assumed the power to give the 
bishops the right to nominate and the Annual Conferences the 
authority to elect the presiding elders, they might take away what 
they had conferred and thereby paralyze the itinerant system. 

3. As the bishops alone are responsible to the General Con- 
ference, and as the power to perform their duties consists main- 
ly in appointing and changing the preachers, this resolution 
would deprive the General Conference of the power of carrying 
their own "rules and regulations" into effect, because they 
could not justly hold the bishops accountable for the work after 
having divested them of the power to perform it. 

4. It manifestly appeared to be an act of usurped authority 
likely to involve a train of alarming consequences. 

Under this state of things the senior bishop drew up the 
following as his view of the subject, intending, at a suitable 
time, to read it to the Conference: 

BALTIMORE, May 22, 1820. 

To the bishops and General Conference, now in session. 

On Saturday evening I received a copy of the resolution which passed 
on the nineteenth instant, which, contrary to the established order of our 
Church, authorizes the Annual Conference to elect the presiding elders, 
and thereby transfers the executive authority from the general superin- 
tendents to the Annual Conferences and leaves the bishops divested of 
their power to oversee the business under the full responsibility of general 
superintendents. I extremely regret that you have, by this measure, re- 
duced me to the painful necessity of pronouncing the resolution unconsti- 
tutional, and, therefore destitute of the proper authority of the Church. 

While I am firmly bound, by virtue of my office, to see that all the rules 
are properly enforced, I am equally bound to prevent the imposition of 
that which is not properly rule. Under the influence of this sentiment, 
and considering the importance of the subject, I enter this protest. 

If the delegated Conference has a right in one case to impose rules con- 
trary to the constitution which binds hundreds of preachers and thousands 
of members in Christian fellowship and on which their own existence and 
the validity of their acts depend, why may not the same right exist in 
another? why not in all cases? If the right of infringing the constitution 
is admitted, what will secure the rights and privileges of preachers and 
people, together with the friends of the Church? If the constitution can- 
not protect the executive authority, in vain may the moneyed institution 
and individual rights call for help from that source. 

244 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Believing, as I do, that this resolution is unauthorized by the constitu- 
tion, and therefore not to be regarded as a rule of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, I consider myself under no obligation to enforce or to enjoin it on 
others to do so. 

I present this as the expression of my attachment to the constitution 
and government of the Church and of my sincere desire to preserve the 
rights and privileges of the whole body. 

Your worn-down and afflicted friend, 



Shortly before this document was finished, Bishop Roberts 
entered his room and presented him with a paper from the bish- 
op elect, addressed to Bishops George and Roberts. Bishop 
Roberts thought that the bishop elect was not disposed to sub- 
mit to the authority of the General Conference. The other 
(Bishop McKendree) thought that such a sentiment would form 
a serious objection to his ordination, but did not think it was 
expressed in the document or held by the writer. "It was 
agreed that Bishop Roberts should see Brother Soule, and re- 
port at a meeting of the bishops to be held next morning. Soule 
disavowed the sentiment which the letter was supposed to con- 
tain, and stated his views on the back of the letter in terms too 
plain to be misunderstood." 

The following is the original letter, and postscript on the 
back of it, alluded to by Bishop McKendree above: 

Dear Bishops: In consequence of an act of the General Conference, 
passed this day, in which I conceive the constitution of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church is violated and that episcopal government, which has 
heretofore distinguished her, greatly enervated, by a transfer of executive 
power from the episcopacy to the several Annual Conferences, it becomes 
my duty to notify you, from the imposition of whose hands only I can be 
qualified for the office of superintendent, that under the existing state of 
things / cannot, consistently with my convictions of propriety and obligation, 
enter upon the work of an itinerant general superintendent. 

I was elected under the constitution and government of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church unimpaired. On no other consideration but that of their 
continuance would I have consented to be considered a candidate for a re- 
lation in which were incorporated such arduous labors and awful respon- 

I do not feel myself at liberty to wrest myself from your hands, as the 
act of the General Conference has placed me in them; but / solemnly de- 
clare, and could appeal to the Searcher of hearts for the sincerity of my inten- 
tion, that I cannot act as superintendent under the rules this day made and es- 
tablished by the General Conference. 

With this open and undisguised declaration before you, your wisdom 
will dictate the course proper to be pursued. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 245 

I ardently desire peace, and if it will tend to promote it, am willing, per- 
fectly willing, that my name should rest in forgetfulness. 

I remain, with sentiments of unfeigned affection and esteem, your son 
and servant in the gospel Christ, JOSHUA SOULE. 

BALTIMORE, May 18, 1820. 

P. S. At the special request of Bishop McKendree, I hereby certify 
that in the above statement I mean no more than I cannot, consistently 
with my views of propriety and responsibility, administer that part of the 
government particularly embraced in the act of the General Conference 
above mentioned. JOSHUA SOULE. 

It is not a little surprising that this document, so character- 
istic of the author's candor, conscientiousness, and firmness, 
should have been imagined to indicate disloyalty to the del- 
egated Conference. Fealty to the constitution and an honest 
and manly protest against its violation is the highest evidence 
of loyalty to the Church and the constitution. This communi- 
cation needed no " P. S." It is a monument to its author. 

We proceed with the narration of the events which followed 
the presentation of the above communication, as stated in 
Bishop McKendree's Journal, and, of course, in his own hand- 

"The bishops met early next morning, and the communica- 
tion was attentively considered. It appeared that the difficul- 
ties of the bishop elect rested entirely upon the question of the 
constitutionality of the resolutions; and it was proposed for the 
bishops to express their opinions on their constitutionality. 
Bishop Roberts was of the opinion that the resolutions of the 
Conference were an infringement of the constitution. Bishop 
George chose to be silent. The senior bishop considered them 
unconstitutional. The next question was the propriety of 
ordaining the bishop elect under existing circumstances. It 
was unanimously agreed that he should be ordained. The time 
was agreed upon, and Bishop George was appointed to prepare 
the credentials and to preach the ordination sermon. 1 The sen- 

'That this determination to ordain him was not conditional is positively 
asserted by Bishop McKendree and is evident from the fact that all the 
necessary arrangements were agreed upon for it. Not only was Bishop 
Roberts to take the chair instead of Bishop George, in order that Bishop 
George might prepare to preach the ordination sermon and to have the 
credentials got ready, but the Rev. Thomas Mason left the Conference at 
the request of the bishops to attend to the business of having the parch- 
ment printed and prepared for the occasion. "He completed the creden- 
tials, fixing the date according to the time announced by Bishop McKen- 
dree for his consecration, and Bishop George notified the bishop elect to be 

246 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

ior bishop then suggested the propriety of informing the Con- 
ference of the state of things. It was approved, and he was re- 
quested to make the communication, and the bishop elect, 
having been informed of the design, approved of the course. 
When the president, Bishop Roberts, had called the attention 
of the Conference, the senior bishop laid the case before them. 
The letter of the bishop elect to the bishop was read; the con- 
clusion of the council of the bishops and their resolution to or- 
dain Brother Soule were stated, as well as an intimation of their 
opinions respecting the constitutional difficulty. The senti- 
ments of the bishop elect having been prepared and, with a little 
modification, having been read, he retired, and the Conference 
resumed its business. A warm contest ensued. The bishop 
elect was attacked in different ways and sorely pressed, so 
much so, that at length he asked leave to decline his ordination. 
This was objected to, and he was requested to withdraw his pe- 
tition by a larger majority than that by which he had been 
elected. However, after a tedious and painful debate, it was 
announced from the chair that it was accepted, but that it was 
accepted by a vote of the Conference was not ascertained. 

"For the General Conference thus to attack the bishop elect, 
and for the president to suffer him to be pursued in this way, 
appeared to the senior bishop to be very unfair. The Confer- 
ence, by the vote of a respectable majority, had put him into 

ready; and Bishop George certainly would not have done all this ii the or- 
dination had been suspended on a condition." Again: " The Conference did 
not understand the ordination to have any conditional reference to them, 
or that they had any legislative control over it; therefore a protest was 
contemplated, perhaps prepared, to be presented at the time of the con- 
secration. While these things were going on, Bishops George and Roberts, 
who were in favor of carrying the resolutions into effect, took J. Soule with 
them to Bishop McKendree's room in order, if possible, to prevail on them 
i. e., McKendree and Soule to submit to the authority of the General Con- 
ference. The senior bishop avowed his readiness to submit to the author- 
ity of the General Conference, but opposed the want of legitimate author- 
ity as his objection to those resolutions, and, addressing Bishop Roberts, 
said: 'You, brother, as well as I, believe these resolutions an infringement 
of the constitution.' Such an appeal, under such circumstances, laid the 
bishops, especially Bishop Roberts, under an imperious obligation, if the 
statement were erroneous, to have objected to it; but no objection was 
made. A silent pause ensued. Since this interview, Bishop Roberts has 
not only said the resolutions are an infringement of the constitution, but 
that by them 'the principle was ceded,'" meaning that they assumed the 
principle of overriding the constitution by GeneralJDonference legislation. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 247 

the hands of the bishop for ordination. In this situation he cer- 
tainly had a right to address a letter to the bishops, and when 
he was involved in difficulties by a subsequent act of the Con- 
ference, he certainly acted an honorable part to inform them of 
his difficulties prior to his ordination and thereby put it in their 
power to guard against future difficulties. For this letter and 
its contents Brother Soule was accountable to the bishops, not 
to the Conference. Had the bishops judged his conduct un- 
worthy of the trust confided to him by his election, they would 
have returned him to the Conference with their objections to 
his ordination. This would have brought him under the juris- 
diction of the Conference so far as to reconsider and rescind 
their vote or confirm it and order his consecration. But in- 
stead of this, after a formal examination of the subject, they 
i. e., the bishops had admitted his principle, resolved on his 
ordination, and, that nothing might be done in the dark, they 
previously informed the Conference of their design. The Gen- 
eral Conference had a right to take exceptions, but they should 
have been directed against the bishops and not against the bish- 
op elect, who was not accountable to them for this act and was 
then under the protection of the bishops, who were amendable 
to the Conference for their official acts. For the Conference to 
undertake to convince the bishops of an error in their determi- 
nation to ordain the bishop elect under existing circumstances 
would have been proper, and as the bishops had resolved to 
ordain him, it would have been better for the president to ar- 
rest proceedings against Brother Soule and invited the attack 
upon themselves. 

"Ultimately the business assumed another form. The reso- 
lutions which were the occasion of all this trouble were attacked, 
and finally their operation was suspended for four years. 

"The suspension of these resolutions opened the way for 
another effort to save the constitution, to preserve the peace of 
the Church, and perpetuate the itinerant system objects which, 
in his estimation, deserve every effort and sacrifice he can make. 
This was to lay the constitutionality of these resolutions be- 
fore the Annual Conferences as the only legitimate and supreme 
authority to decide in such cases. To this course he was pro- 
videntially directed by a previous case in our administration. 
Under a provision in the Discipline, the bishops formed the 
Genesee Conference in 1809. In the Virginia Conference there 
was an objection to this act, being, as it was supposed, uncon- 
stitutional. The bishops submitted the question to the Annual 

248 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Conferences. They acted upon it as a proper subject of their de- 
cision, and confirmed the act of the bishops. By this act the 
bishops and the Annual Conferences tacitly declared the Annual 
Conferences to be the proper judges of constitutional questions, 
and the senior bishop is fully persuaded that, conformably to 
the genius of our government, all such cases as cannot be other- 
wise adjusted ought to be submitted to their decision until 
otherwise provided for by the same authority on which the pre- 
sent General Conference depends for its existence. 

"The senior bishop, in hope of succeeding in this good work, 
prepared an address to the Annual Conferences, the object of 
which was to obtain a decision on the constitutionality of the 
suspended resolutions. If the decision should be in their favor, 
they would go into operation as soon as might be; but if against 
them, he advised the Annual Conferences to give their consent 
for the ensuing General Conference to introduce them conform- 
ably to the constitution. This he did, not that he considered 
the change an improvement of the system of government, but 
because, in his opinion, the advocates of the measure had gone 
too far peaceably to return without this concession and that a 
less efficient plan, properly managed, would answer a better 
purpose than a more effective one in the midst of confusion and 

Having followed the narrative of Bishop McKendree's Jour- 
nal to a period subsequent to the close of the General Conference 
and thereby anticipated the result, let us now return and fol- 
low the proceedings of that body more in detail and in the reg- 
ular order of action. 

We have seen that J. Soule was elected on May 13; that short- 
ly afterwards the discussion was renewed on the presiding elder 
question, resulting, on the eighteenth, in the adoption of the 
compromise resolutions presented by the committee; that upon 
the same day J. Soule addressed a letter to the bishops, already 
inserted; and that the bishops, with the approbation of the 
bishop elect, brought the letter and the topics it referred to be- 
fore the Conference. We have, moreover, seen that the newly 
elected bishop tendered his resignation, and that the Conference 
declined its acceptance. We now quote an extract of the Jour- 

" Tuesday, May 23, 3 o'clock. The following was submitted, 
signed D. Ostrander, James Smith: 

"Whereas, Brother Joshua Soule, bishop elect, has signified 
in his letter to the episcopacy (which letter was read in open 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 249 

Conference), that if he be ordained bishop, he will not hold 
himself bound to be governed by a certain resolution of this Gen- 
eral Conference relative to the nomination and election of pre- 
siding elders; therefore, 

"Resolved, That the bishops be earnestly requested by this 
Conference to defer or postpone the ordination of the said 
Brother Joshua Soule until he gives satisfactory explanations 
to this Conference.' 

"After some debate, Brother Soule made some remarks. 

"Moved and seconded that this resolution be indefinitely 

"Before the question was taken on this motion, the resolution 
was withdrawn. 

" Wednesday morning, May 24- It was suggested by Broth- 
er Reed that if we go into the ordination of Brother Soule, it was 
now time we adjourn. 1 Five minutes before eleven o'clock, 
Brother Joshua Soule rose and expressed a wish that the Gen- 
eral Conference should by vote request the episcopacy to delay 
his ordination for some time. 

"No order was taken on the subject. 

"Bishop George stated that the episcopacy had deferred the 
ordination of Brother Joshua Soule to some future period. 

"Thursday morning, May 25. Bishop George informed the 
Conference that the ordination of Brother J. Soule would take 
place at twelve o'clock to-day, in this house. 

"Brother J. Soule presented a communication in which he 
stated his resignation of the office of a bishop in the Methodist 
Episcopal Church to which he had been elected." 

The course by the bishop elect was dictated by several con- 

1. His conviction that the constitution of the Church was 
infringed by a law which he would be expected to execute. 

2. The bishops themselves were in trouble. All of them had 
agreed to ordain him and were anxious that he should submit 
to it, but there is reason to believe that two of them desired this 
as a concession to the Conference, and perhaps with the expect- 
tation that he would so far yield his scruples as, for the sake of 
peace, to administer the objectionable law; while the senior 
bishop desired his ordination not only because he regarded him 
as eminently worthy and fit for the office (as did also his col- 
leagues), but moreover because he had been lawfully elected 
and would resist the unconstitutional aggression which he be- 

ir The ordination was appointed to take placej|at 11 A.M. on this day. 

250 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

lieved had been made by the compromise resolutions. The 
resignation was designed in part to harmonize and relieve them. 1 

3. The Conference was in great trouble. The majority had, 
for the sake of peace, adopted a measure which, upon reflection, 
they believed unconstitutional. They harmonized with the man 
whom they had chosen for their bishop and desired his election, 
although they believed he would not obey the law. Yet they 
hesitated to repeal the law for fear of dissensions and strife. 
The resignation of their bishop elect was designed to relieve 

Many of his oldest and most cherished friends opposed his 
intention to resign. They urged him by his love of the Church, 
of constitutional Methodism, and by the fact that a respectable 
majority persisted in demanding his ordination to submit. 
Upon the other hand, the office had no charms for him. He had 
a large young family from whom he must be almost estranged if 
he accepted. He delighted in the regular pastoral work of the 
ministry. But, above all, he felt that he could not perform the 
functions of a general superintendent under this new law and 
honestly believed that in administering this law fealty to the 
delegated General Conference would be treason to the Church. 
Therefore, to avoid this conflict with the Conference and an 
apparently arrogant assumption of power, he felt constrained 
to reject the councils and entreaties of his friends and, by re- 
signing his office, to throw back the responsibility upon the 
Conference. It is difficult to conceive the mental agony which 
such a train of circumstances would produce in an intelligent, 
conscientious, and sensitive mind. The following letter from 
Joshua Soule to the bishops is an apology for his course and 
needs no explanation: 

Bishops McKendree, George, and Roberts. 

Dear Bishops: The course which I have pursued in presenting my resig- 
nation to the Conference may savor of disrespect to you and therefore 
needs apology. 

I spent the night in a sleepless manner and could not prepare the com- 
munications which I designed to make to you and to the Conference in 
time to see you until after Conference hours. Not having the least inti- 
mation or idea of the appointment for ordination this morning, my inten- 
tion was to have seen you together, immediately after the morning session, 
and to communicate to you first my resignation and to the Conference 
at the opening of the afternoon session. But on coming to the Conference I 
learned that the ordination was notified for this morning; and in order to 

1 See note on page 245. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 251 

prevent improper excitement as to the time appointed for ordination, I 
presented my resignation to the Conference when I did. 

I hope you will not pass a severe censure on me until you shall hear the 
reasons which have led to this measure. 

Yours most respectfully, JOSHUA SOULE. 

MAY 25, 1820. 

We now resume the extracts from the General Conference 

"May 25, 3 o'clock. At the opening of the Conference, 
Brother Joshua Soule expressed a wish that the Conference 
would come to a decision on his letter of resignation offered 
this morning. 

"Moved and seconded that Brother Joshua Soule be re- 
quested to withdraw his resignation. This motion was with- 

"Moved, etc., that the Conference do not express their de- 
cision on the subject before to-morrow morning. Carried. 

"Friday, May 26, 3 o'clock. The letter of Brother Soule to 
the General Conference, in which he tendered his resignation, 
being called for and read, it was moved and seconded that the 
Conference accept the resignation. Withdrawn. 

"Moved that Brother Soule be and hereby is requested to 
withdraw his resignation and comply with the wishes of his 
brethren in submitting to be ordained. Signed S. G. Roszel, 
S. K. Hodges. Carried, 49 ayes. 

"Brother Soule, having come into Conference, again stated 
his purpose to resign. His resignation was accepted." 

No formal vote, however, seems to have been taken. 

The following letter to Bishop McKendree was written by 
Joshua Soule about this time and reveals the writer's mental 
agony under the trying circumstances of his position. It was 
a private and confidential communication, vindicating his resig- 
nation against the importunities of his friends and the objections 
of his opponents. It is like its author. 

Dear Bishop McKendree: I cannot doubt you will think me sincere 
when I assure you that the labor of my mind in the extraordinary situation 
in which I am placed has weighed down my spirits and, in some measure, 
broken down that firmness of resolution which dignifies the human charac- 
ter, and of which, I trust, I have not been altogether destitute while I have 
encountered that portion of adversity which, in the administrations of 
Providence, has fallen to my lot. 

I entered the Methodist Episcopal Church when I was but a child. I 
have grown up in her bosom, and my attachment to her institutions has 
increased with my increasing years. My happiness has been ingrafted on 

252 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

her communion, and I have contemplated her apostolic order with admi- 
ration and delight. The constitution which secures her government and 
guards the powers and privileges of her ministers and members, I have ever 
held sacred. To touch it in any other way than that which is provided in the 
constitution itself awakens my sensibility and gives me indescribable pain. 
In this state of things the important question is, How shall I act! O, that 
wisdom from above might guide my decision! 

I was elected to the office of a superintendent when the constitution and 
government were untouched, but by an extraordinary train of occurrances be- 
tween my election and consecration to office, a law has been passed with 
special reference to the episcopacy which, in my judgment, transfers an 
important executive prerogative from the episcopacy to the Annual Con- 
ferences, and which law I cannot conscientiously administer, because I 
firmly believe it to be unconstitutional and therefore doubt my right to 
administer it. If I receive the imposition of hands under these circum- 
stances without an open and honest declaration to the body which elected 
me, how shall I sustain the character of integrity! What shall answer 
when, in the course of my administration, I am placed at issue with the 
law? I have seriously reflected on the subject of a partial (sectional) visita- 
tion of the Conferences. I have attempted to analyze this in relation to 
our plan of itinerant general superintendency, and I perceive a dissonance 
which I cannot harmonize. I apprehend that my path, should I proceed, 
would inevitably lead me to a point where I should be at issue with my 
predecessors and seniors in office. I declare to you, my dear sir, that these 
considerations, connected with the train of consequences which must fol- 
low, drink up my spirit and involve me in a torrent of difficulties and re- 
sponsibilities which that portion of fortitude that Providence has imparted 
to me is not sufficient to sustain. // this is weakness, I am weak. 

Had I been ordained previously to the passing of that resolution, my 
path would have been marked with sunbeams; it is now quite otherwise. 

By many I shall be considered an enthusiast, and, shall, probably, sink 
in the estimation of all; but my conscious integrity I hope to retain as long 
as I live. And rather than practice the least deception, I will cheerfully 
suffer the loss of all I hold dear on earth. 

From these considerations, the final decision of my mind (not unac- 
companied with prayers and tears) is, that / cannct receive the imposition 
of hands without a full and undisguised development of my situation to the 
General Conference. 

To every man who spoke to me on the subject previous to my election, 
I unequivocally declared my entire adherence to the old-established plan, 
and that I stood or fell with the constitution and the government. I believe no 
one can say, with a knowledge of my sentiments, that I have deceived any 
man. I have betrayed no trust. 

I cannot say that I feel no sensibility at the thought of losing the con- 
fidence ol those friends to whom I have been bound by the most sacred ties 
for a succession of years, and if I am doomed to sink in your estimation, 
suffer me to entreat you to consider fully the diffculties of my situation and 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 253 

ascribe to the frailty of human nature that which I most solemnly assure 
you is dictated neither by perverseness of will nor impurity of motive. And 
whatever loss I may sustain in your confidence, permit me to beg that I 
may live in your prayers. JOSHUA SOULE. 

The day on which the resignation of the bishop elect was de- 
clared to have been accepted was marked by another very 
important act, the suspension by vote of the General Conference 
of the presiding elder resolutions. This, of course, created a 
good deal of excitement. And yet, now that the occasion has 
passed away and we are prepared to look more calmly into this 
matter, who can doubt but that on both sides there was an hon- 
est difference of opinion among brethren equally good and true? 
Who doubts that Garrettson, Cooper, Bangs, Hedding, Picker- 
ing, Emory, and Waugh, and their colleagues on one side; and 
Collins, Capers, Andrew, Roszel, Reed, Soule, and their asso- 
ciates on the other side, were aiming with equal zeal and integ- 
rity to promote what they sincerely believed to be the perma- 
nent interests of the Church? All but one of them have now gone 
to the Church triumphant and have embraced each other as 
fellow laborers on earth and heirs of the promises above. Or 
who can doubt that McKendree, George, and Roberts were 
alike sincere in their views of Church polity, however differing 
as to the means of securing the end at which they with equal 
purity of motives aimed? That McKendree and Soule were 
right in their sentiments, the writer believes; but he also be- 
lieves they were all right at heart. 

Upon the resignation of the newly elected bishop, the ques- 
tion came up as to the ability of the bishops to perform the nec- 
essary labor of visiting the Conferences and the other duties of 
general superintendents for the ensuing four years. All seemed 
impressed with the conviction they could not do it, and some 
were anxious to have another election. The minority thought 
that no one would likely be elected who would give satisfaction 
to the whole work, and therefore that it was best to postpone 
the election until next General Conference. 

On the next day, May 27, a protest was sent to the bishops 
against entering into another election, signed by thirty members. 
The original paper is before the writer in the handwriting of Dr. 
Bangs, with the signatures attached of many prominent mem- 
bers of the New York, New England, Genesee, and Philadelphia 

The reasons assigned are the agitations created by the recent 
election and resignation and the excitement growing out of the 

254 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

suspension of the presiding elder resolutions, producing such a 
state of feeling as precluded the deliberation necessary to such an 
act. They suggest that "it would be placing any man in a very 
hazardous situation to put him, at this time, into the episcopal 
chair." They also complain of the majority for the manner in 
which they secured the suspension of the presiding elder resolu- 
tions "on yesterday, by obtaining the signatures of said ma- 
jority"; and that now they are so leagued together that they 
can and will carry any measure they choose, however obnoxious 
to the feelings and views of the minority. They therefore say: 
" We most earnestly wish the present session to come to a close." 
The fact is, the majority would have voted for no one but Joshua 
Soule, and as that under the existing circumstances would have 
been afflicting to him and perhaps add to the unpleasant agita- 
tion of the Conference, there was a general inclination to put 
off the election if it could be done without too serious detriment 
to the work. When, therefore, the two effective superintend- 
ents came forward and proposed to undertake the task for the 
succeeding four years, with only such assistance as the senior 
bishop might be able to give them, the proposition was gladly 
concurred in and the Conference speedily brought to a close. 
On this point Bishop McKendree's Journal says: 

"After the termination of this important subject, the Con- 
ference hastened to a close, and the members departed for their 
respective charges, but with very different views relative to our 
Church polity, the result of the Conference, and the state of the 
episcopacy, and their conflicting views and apprehensions were 
but too freely disseminated among the people. I left the Gen- 
eral Conference under great weakness of body and deeply con- 
cerned for the perpetuation of our government and the pros- 
perity of the Church. I did not think the bishops could manage 
the extensive and difficult work they had undertaken. The 
part which I had acted at this Conference subjected me to an 
inadversion and misrepresentation. The traveling preachers 
had, in my opinion, pushed their political views too far for an 
amicable adjustment without some modification in the execu- 
tive department. I therefore concluded instead of regulating 
my movements for the benefit of my health, as the General 
Conference had advised and as my own judgment approved, to 
continue to travel as extensively as possible in order to render 
some assistance to my overburdened colleagues and to contribute 
to the pacification of the Church. To reduce the power of the 
bishops in stationing the preachers, which was the only avowed 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 255 

subject of controversy at this time, I did not consider to be a wise 
or profitable regulation, yet was disposed to admit it, provided the 
change should be made conformably to the constitution, which 
was intended to preserve an efficient itinerant episcopal form 
of government. 

"I am fully persuaded that confidence, peace, and harmony 
among the preachers and people and the perpetuity of our 
itinerant system now in successful operation very much de- 
pend upon the confidence reposed in the delegated General Con- 
ference as to their intention to preserve the constitution invio- 
late and regard it as their rule of conduct. My opposition to 
the 'peace measure resolutions,' as they were called, arose from 
a conviction that they were a violation of the constitution and 
contravened a principle destructive of the 'limitations and re- 
strictions' imposed on the delegated Conference; and as these 
restrictions were imposed by the traveling preachers collectively 
and from whom the delegated body derived its being and all its 
powers, I considered them the proper judges of the constitu- 
tionality of their acts. Influenced by these views and a hope 
of adjusting our difficulties and harmonizing the traveling 
preachers, an address to the Annual Conferences was drawn up 
in which I gave my reasons for believing the suspended resolu- 
tions to be unconstitutional, intending if a majority of the An- 
nual Conferences were of a different opinion to submit to their 
judgment as a legal decision and upon that authority admit, 
recommend, and act according to the provisions of those reso- 
olutions; but in the event that my opinion should be confirmed, 
to advise the Conferences to recommend their adoption by the 
ensuing General Conference, and thereby introduce them con- 
formably to the constitution. 

"The address was first presented to those Conferences most 
inimical to the proposed change, and it was satisfactorily as- 
certained that seven of the twelve Annual Conferences judged 
the suspended resolutions unconstitutional; and yet, for peace's 
sake, although they were not considered by them an improve- 
ment, they authorized the ensuing General Conference, as far 
as they could do so, to adopt them without alteration. But the 
five other Conferences, in which the steady friends and most 
powerful advocates of the proposed change were found, refused 
to act on the address, and thereby prevented its adoption in a 
constitutional way, and, of course, set in for another vigorous 
contest at the next General Conference. In this way my hope 
of a safe and peaceable adjustment of our difficulties and the 

256 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

prevention of a dangerous probable schism in the Church was 
frustrated and the way for the spread of the schism already 
commenced was made more easy. 

"Until that time I had, so far as I know, the confidence and 
affections of the preachers generally, but after that I had to 
feel the effects of an astonishing change. Old friends met me 
with cool indifference or with retiring, forbidding reserve, and 
sometimes even with rudeness. My best-intended movements 
were misconstrued, sometimes converted into faults or mag- 
nified to my disadvantage and to the injury of the cause which 
we were mutually bound to support. In this furnace of afflic- 
tion I discovered my own imperfections as well as those of my 
brethren, saw wherein I might have acted more wisely and pru- 
dently in many cases, and that some of our afflictions might 
have been prevented and the same end obtained by a course a 
little different, and therefore better, because less liable to mis- 
representation. But the great Head of the Church still presided 
and prospered his work in our hands. I still respected my old 
friends, from whom I was suffering exquisitely for their former 
friendship and kindness, as well as for their continued dispo- 
sition to minister to my increasing necessities and, above all, I 
was humbled under a sense of the grace of God, by which I was 
preserved in this fight of affliction. 

"Between the General Conferences of 1820 and 1824, my 
health was very delicate and my trials very great, but I pursued 
my course as well as I could until the fall preceding the General 
Conference of 1824, when, observing the method adopted by 
some and thinking that I could not attend the Annual Confer- 
ences without interfering with their measures, or at least seem- 
ing to interfere in the election of delegates to the ensuing Gen- 
eral Conference, which I deemed derogatory to my station, there- 
fore, notwithstanding the fate of our controversy depended on 
the representatives to be chosen at the three following Confer- 
ences, I committed the cause to God, and went no farther than 
the Tennessee Conference. Great were the efforts to secure a 
majority in favor of the suspended resolutions, but they proved 

The course pursued by Bishop McKendree throughout this 
very unpleasant controversy was characterized by great dis- 
crimination, deep devotion to the interests of the Church, and 
a moral heroism rarely equaled. His position was a very deli- 
cate one, inasmuch as in opposing the measures under consider- 
ation, he seemed to be advocating the prerogatives of his own 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 257 

office, and thus his opposition might be construed into a self- 
ish and ambitious principle. Yet nothing was more foreign 
from the truth. He believed, and his conviction was deep and 
abiding, that the change contended for was subversive of the 
constitution and might be made the precedent for a most fearful 
train of revolutionary measures. He could not, durst not, 
yield to them. 


Bishop McKendree's appeal to the Annual Conferences as to the suspended 
resolutions The Southern and Western Conferences consent Five 
others reject it It fails By whom, and why Weslyan Repository 
Mutual Rights Methodist Protestant Church Journal resumed 
Henry Smith's narrative Visits extensively Preaches at camp meet- 
ing He goes South South Carolina Conference J. Soule's letters 
Dr. Capers's letter His character and influence His second letter 
The era of missions Cherokee and Choctaw Missions to slaves 
Bible and Sunday School Societies. 

THE following is the address of Bishop McKendree to the 
Annual Conferences in relation to the suspended resolutions 
referred to in the last chapter. It exhibits the character of his 
mind, clear, logical, and analytical, and is a triumphant vin- 
dication of his ecclesiastical politics as well as of his unwaver- 
ing opposition to the changes involved in these resolutions. It 
well deserves a careful and repeated perusal; for although the 
occasion which called it forth has passed away we trust forever 
so that few if any are now found, even in the North where they 
were most popular, to advocate their introduction into the pol- 
ity of the Church, the South continuing, as she has ever been, 
true to the constitution, yet, to prevent the recurrence of sim- 
ilar scenes, it is important that our Church government should 
be studied and understood; and it is believed that no single doc- 
ument which has ever been published upon this subject pre- 
sents such a clear, concise, and powerful array of arguments 
against the innovations alluded to as does this address. Its 
effect was most decidedly conservative. Multitudes of preach- 
ers and members who were likely to be misled by the popular 
clamor against episcopal power were brought to see the tend- 
ency and anticipate the result of this "peace measure"; and 
many of the excellent and pure-minded men who had advocated 
it lived to appreciate the motives and honor the noble old Bish- 
op who so bravely and yet so meekly withstood it. 

To the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, commencing with the Ohio 
Conference, to be held in Lebanon, September 6, 1821. 

Dear Brethren: Forasmuch as a considerable branch of the Church of 
Christ is committed to our care, so as to involve us in high responsibility 
both to God and man, I am induced by the present state of a long-pro- 
tracted controversy respecting the powers of our general superinterdents 
to lay the subject fully before you, hoping you will direct it to a proper 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 259 

For a number of years a respectable minority in our General Conference 
have been endeavoring to divest the bishops of the power of choosing the 
presiding elders and of stationing the preachers. They wish to change our 
present form of government so as to invest the Annual Conferences with 
the power of choosing the presiding elders, instead of their being appointed 
by the bishops, and then to transfer the power of stationing the preachers 
from the bishops to the presiding elders. But this change, in the opinion 
of your superintendent, would radically affect our system of government 
in several ways. 

1. It would effectually transfer the executive authority from the bishops 
to the Annual Conferences and thereby do away that form of episcopacy 
and itinerant general superintendency which is recognized in our form of 
Discipline, and confirmed in the third Article of the Constitution. 

2. By doing away the present effective general superintendency, our 
itinerant plan of preaching the gospel would be greatly injured if not en- 
tirely destroyed. 

3. In point of law, it would effectually divest the members of our Church 
of all constitutional security for their rights and reduce them to the neces- 
sity of depending entirely on the wisdom and goodness of the General 
Conference for those inestimable blessings. 

That the proposed change would effectually transfer the executive 
authority from the bishops to the Annual Conferences, and thereby do 
away that form of episcopacy, with the itinerant general superintendency, 
which is recognized in our form of Discipline and confirmed in the third 
Article of the Constitution, will appear from a due attention to our form 
of Discipline. According to our system of government, it is the duty ot the 
bishops " to travel through the connection at large, to oversee the spiritual 
and temporal business of the Church." But to oversee, or superintend, 
implies power to overrule or manage business officially. In order, therefore, 
to qualify the bishops to oversee the important business .committed to 
their charge and to carry our system of rules into complete effect, they 
are authorized "to preside in the Conferences;" "to fix the appointments 
of the preachers for the several circuits;" to form districts, and choose 
the presiding elders; and, in the intervals of the Conferences, to change, 
receive, and suspend preachers, as necessity may require and the Discipline 
directs." And in order to secure a faithful performance of their duty and, 
at the same time, guard against an abuse of power, the bishops are obliged 
to act in strict conformity to rules formed by the preachers, over whom 
their authority is exercised, to whom they are amenable for their adminis- 
tration and by whom they may be expelled for improper conduct. 

In the appointment of preachers, those who are to have charge of cir- 
cuits, districts, etc., are selected and, by virtue of their appointment, are 
invested with full power to discharge the duties of their respective stations; 
and in case they should neglect or refuse to do their duty as pointed out 
in the Discipline, it becomes the duty of the general superintendent (after 
suitable admonition) to remove such from office and supply their places 
with others, who will attend to the duties assigned them. 

260 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

1 . By employing preachers in the intervals of the Conferences and making 
such changes from district to district and from Conference to Conference 
as the situation of our work may require, the general superintendents are 
enabled so to enlarge the field of missionary labors that the blessings of the 
gospel of Christ may be carried to the destitute wherever they may be 
found, especially to the poor. In this way uniformity in the administra- 
tion may be preserved throughout the Conferences, errors in the adminis- 
tration corrected, and the rules and regulations of the General Conference 
carried into effect; while the whole administration, even from the very ex- 
tremities of the work, through the responsibility of the general superin- 
intendents, is brought under the inspection and control of the General 
Conference. Thus qualified for their work, it is the bishops' reasonable 
duty to travel through the connection at large; "to oversee the spiritual 
and temporal of the Church"; and it is equally reasonable and just that 
they should be responsible to the General Conference for the faithful per- 
formance or discharge of the duties of their episcopal office. 

From this view of our government, it evidently follows that the ex- 
ecutive authority, or the power by which the bishops are enabled "to over- 
see the business of the Church," consists in the power of appointing and con- 
trolling the preachers, and especially the presiding elders, because they are 
authorized to exercise all the powers of general superintendents in the 
bounds of their respective districts, except that of ordination; and might, 
but for their being subject to the control of the bishops, so counteract and 
render the general superintendency useless and nugatory as effectually " to 
do away that episcopacy and itinerant general superintendency recognized 
in our Discipline and confirmed by the third Article of the Constitution." 
The presiding elders, at present, are under obligations to attend to the in- 
structions of the general superintendents, but were the proposed change 
adopted they would then be under obligations to follow the instructions 
of the Annuafc Conferences, consequently the bishops would have no more 
control over them than the Annual Conferences have under the present 
regulations; and there would be no propriety in requiring the bishops to 
travel through the connection at large (say six thousand miles) annually, 
"to oversee the business of the Church"; nor could they justly be respon- 
sible for the administration while thus deprived of official control; for, al- 
though they might travel through the connection and see abuses, the in- 
structions of different Conferences clashing, their presiding elders admin- 
istering differently, and coming in contact with each other in the execu- 
tion of discipline, their interference would be unofficial and of no effect. 
Therefore, the change under consideration would completely destroy the 
plan of our general superintendency. 

2. By doing away the present general superintendency, our itinerant 
plan of preaching the gospel would be greatly injured, if not entirely de- 

That the itinerant plan of preaching the gospel may be differently modi- 
fied and still succeed under different circumstances is freely admitted. 
Could all our traveling preachers attend one Annual Conference to account 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 261 

for their administration and receive their appointments and instructions, 
the itinerant plan might go on and prosper in America as it does in England 
without either General Conference or general superintendency. But our 
situation is widely different from theirs. Our work extends over more 
than twenty States and has to encounter difficulties arising from the civil 
regulations of different State and Territorial governments. We are divided 
into twelve Annual Conferences. These are all equal in power and in- 
dependent of each other, no one having power to impose laws on another. 
The jurisdiction of each Annual Conference is restricted to its own bounds, 
and each presiding elder to his own district. Out of this state of things 
arises the necessity of a General Conference to make rules or laws for the 
united Annual Conferences and of a general superintendency to enforce 
those rules, to preserve a uniform administration of discipline, to pre- 
serve the union of the several Annual Conferences, and by removing 
preachers from district to district and from Conference to Conference (which 
no Annual Conference nor presiding elder can do) perpetuate and extend 
missionary labors for the benefit of increasing thousands who look unto 
us as teachers sent of God. Such is our situation in this country that our 
itinerant system can no more do without an effective general superintend- 
ency, sufficiently under the control of the General Conference itself. It 
was, therefore, ratified by the constitution after twenty-four years' ex- 
perience in proof of its utility and necessity. Forasmuch, then, as the 
harmony of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the success of our itiner- 
ant system depend so much on an effective general superintendency, it can- 
not be done away without greatly injuring, if not entirely destroying, our 
itinerant plan of preaching the gospel. 

3. In point of law, it would effectively divest the members of our Church 
of all constitutional security for their rights and reduce them to the neces- 
sity of depending altogether on the wisdom and goodness of the General 
Conference for those inestimable blessings. 

Before the constitution was formed the General Conference possessed 
unlimited powers and made such changes in the form of Discipline as they 
saw proper. Out of such a state of things the judicious apprehended se- 
rious consequences might arise. The preachers, therefore, composing the 
General Conference in 1808, in full possession of all the powers of the Con- 
ference of 1784 (which organized the Church), proceeded to constitute and 
organize the delegated General Conference and invested it with full powers 
to make rules and regulations for our Church under certain limitations and 
restrictions. Those restrictions forbid their changing our Articles of Re- 
ligion, erecting new standards of doctrine, or changing our form of govern- 
ment so as to deprive the preachers or members of their privileges, or ap- 
propriating the funds of the Church contrary to the will of their constit- 
uents. The third Article in the Constitution says: "They (the delegated 
General Conference) shall not change or alter any part or rule of our gov- 
ernment so as to do away episcopacy or destroy the plan of our itinerant 
general superintendency"; and they very judiciously secured to the An- 
nual Conferences, jointly, the right of recommending any alteration that 

262 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

might be judged proper in any of the aforesaid restrictions. These re- 
strictions being all equally binding, if the delegated General Conference 
may infringe or set aside one part, why not another? Yea, why not all? 
For it requires no more power to change our Articles of Religion, erect new 
standards of doctrine, and do away the rights of preachers and members, 
than to do away our general superintendency; and, if the delegated Gen- 
eral Conference is not bound by these restrictions, then their power is un- 
defined and unlimited, they may make what changes they please and there 
can be no legal redress, no constitutional guarantee for our rights and priv- 
ileges. Your superintendent most cordially disapproves of such a state 
of things and will do nothing which he believes will produce it, because he 
conceives it would go to deprive both preachers and members of constitu- 
tional security, and reduce them to the necessity of relying solely on the 
General Conference for all their rights and privileges. Before the consti- 
tution was formed, the powers of the General Conference being undefined 
and unlimited, and our form of Discipline subject to any alterations and 
amendments thought to be necessary, each succeeding General Conference, 
for upward of twenty years after the Church was organized, made such 
amendments in the system of government as to them appeared most for 
the glory of God and the benefit of the people; and during those days your 
superintendent (as well as others) felt himself at liberty to propose and de- 
fend such alterations as were judged profitable and expedient; but, since 
the powers of the General Conference were restricted and rights defined 
and secured to members of the Church by the formation of a constitution, 
your superintendent has both thought and acted very differently. Since 
that memorable era in Methodism, your superintendent conceives the Gen- 
eral Conference to be bound as sacredly to observe all those restrictions 
(as the laws by which their proceedings are to be tested) as each member 
of the Church is bound to submit to the examination of his conduct accord- 
ing to the legitimate rules enacted by said Conference, because the restric- 
tions arise from the same source and are supported by the same authority 
which gave evidence to the delegated General Conference and validity 
to their rules and regulations; consequently, they must both stand or fall 
together. From these remarks, it is very evident that the General Confer- 
ence has no right to make such innovations in our system of government, 
regardless of the steps pointed out by the provisionary clause in the sixth 
Article of our Constitution. 

At the last General Conference the long-protracted controversy con- 
cerning the power of the superintendents came to an eventful crisis. In 
all probability, however, the matter would have ended as formerly had not 
what was thought an accommodating plan been introduced, which pro- 
duced the following resolutions: 

"1. Whenever, in any Annual Conference, there shall be a vacancy or va- 
cancies in the office of presiding elder, in consequence of his period of serv- 
ice of four years having expired or the bishop wishing to remove any pre- 
siding elder, or by death, resignation, or otherwise, the bishop, or president 
of the Conference, having ascertained the number wanted from any of 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 263 

these causes, shall nominate three times the number, out of which the Con- 
ference shall elect by ballot, without debate, the number wanted; provided, 
when there is more than one wanted, not more than three at a time shall be 
nominated or more than one at a time elected; provided, also, that in case 
of any vacancy or vacancies in the office of presiding elder in the interval 
of any Annual Conference the bishop shall have authority to fill the said 
vacancy or vacancies until the ensuing Annual Conference. 
"2. That the presiding elders be and hereby are made the advisory coun- 
cil of the bishop, or president of the Conference, in stationing the preach- 

Could your Superintendent have subscribed to these resolutions as con- 
stitutional, he might, in all probability, have enlisted in his favor the 
feelings of many whom he highly esteems and participated in the general 
pleasure. But this he could not do consistently with a good conscience. 
In his judgment the delegated General Conference has no authority to 
make such changes in our system of government, unless the previous steps 
be taken as pointed out in the sixth Article of our Constitution. It is very 
evident that the above resolutions contemplate taking the authority of 
appointing the presiding elders from the episcopacy, at least so far as to 
leave nothing but a simple nomination. But if the General Conference 
possesses the right to go thus far, certainly they may, on the same principle, 
take away the power, or privilege, if you please, to nominate likewise, and 
thereby introduce presiding elders, independently of the bishops' appoint- 
ment, nomination, or control, and, in the issue, entirely destroy our itiner- 
ant episcopal form of government, as has already been shown. Moreover, 
if the General Conference may deprive the bishops of one part of their of- 
ficial powers, in defiance of the constitution, why may they not of another? 
why not of all? The authority that can take away one part of the execu- 
tive power from the bishops, may take away another, until they do away 
episcopacy and destroy the plan of our itinerant general superintendency 
entirely; and the same power and authority that can effect this may effect 
whatever change they please, both in doctrine and discipline. The sub- 
ject involves the most serious consequences. It does not turn so much on 
the iitility or inutility of the change proposed as on the constitutionality 
thereof, because on this point all our rights as preachers and members de- 
pend. With this view of the subject, your superintendent could not sub- 
mit his delegated powers to the General Conference without being charge- 
able with a breach of trust; nor can he conceive how they can legally de- 
prive him of that power without first attending to the steps pointed out in 
our constitution. He thinks it would be a precedent which would subject 
the government to perpetual changes and thereby render the security for 
the rights and privileges of preachers and members very precarious and 
uncertain. Your superintendent, therefore, informed the General Confer- 
ence that, in his judgment, the resolutions were unconstitutional, and con- 
sequently did not feel himself at liberty to carry them into effect. He point- 
ed out some of the consequences of infringing on constitutional rights; and 
to avoid such consequences, advised (if the change must take place) that 

264 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

it should be done according to the provision in the constitution; or, as the 
last resort, he intimated an appeal to the Annual Conferences. This was 
a painful task, especially as it was performed in a state of great bodily de- 
bility, and nothing but a deep sense of duty and obligation to maintain and 
preserve inviolate (as far as he could) that system of government which in 
trust was committed to him as general superintendent of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, and in which both preachers and members are so deeply 
interested, could have induced him to venture the attempt. 

But as many of the preachers who voted in favor of the above-mentioned 
resolutions at the last General Conference saw they had exceeded the 
bounds of the restrictions under which they acted, they suspended the op- 
eration of the resolutions for four years. Hence your superintendent is 
enabled to lay the subject before you clear of embarrassments with which 
it otherwise must have been encumbered. And, although your superin- 
tendent, for reasons already assigned, could not submit or give up the pow- 
ers he possessed, as general superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church to the disposal of your representatives in the last General Confer- 
ence assembled, he will most cheerfully resign them whenever they are 
constitutionally authorized to receive and dispose of them in conformity 
to your instructions. From the preachers collectively both the General Con- 
ference and general superintendents derive their powers; and to the An- 
nual Conferences, jointly, is reserved the power of recommending a change 
in our constitution. To you, therefore, your superintendent not only sub- 
mits the case, but he would advise you to adopt such measures as you in 
your judgment may deem most prudent by which to recognize the adop- 
tion of the change proposed in the resolutions, conformably to the pro- 
vision in the sixth Article of the constitution. Not that he believes the 
change would be an improvement of our system of government, or that it 
would fully answer the expectations of its advocates, but as an accommo- 
dating measure, on the utility of which men equally wise and good may, 
in some degree, differ in opinion. Your superintendent is, therefore, dis- 
posed to submit his opinion for the harmony of the body as far as is con- 
sistent with his duty and obligations to the Church. And, as a majority 
of more than two-thirds of the last General Conference, after having re- 
ceived assurances that it would be satisfactory and put the controverted 
subject to rest, voted in favor of the resolutions, they tacitly say, all things 
considered, the change is at least prudentially necessary. To this decision 
all due deference is paid. In the opinion of your superintendent, no sacri- 
fice for peace and harmony which can be made consistently with the con- 
stitution and preservation of our general itinerant plan of preaching the 
gospel is too great. With your recommendation and instructions, your 
representatives in General Conference may act as they may judge most for 
the glory of God and the good of his Church. Thus introduced, the case 
would commend and establish the constitution and form an effectual bar- 
rier against any future infringement of that bulwark of our rights and lib- 
erties. This advice flows neither from the fear of frowns or a desire of ease, 
honor, or profit. Let me be anything or nothing in those respects, so the 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 265 

work of the Lord may prosper. The peace and prosperity of the Church 
of God are the objects of my pursuit. For these I have labored, for these 
I pray, and in this cause am willing to suffer. Could I contribute to this 
important end, live to see it permanently established, and then be per- 
mitted to rest in peace, my desire on earth would be accomplished. My work 
is almost done; the time of my departure is fast approaching when I shall 
resign the whole of my charge into the hands of the great Head of the 
Church under whose authority I act as your servant. 


The result of this appeal to the Annual Conferences we have 
already seen. Seven out of twelve of them declared the reso- 
lutions unconstitutional, but for the attainment of peace and 
in compliance with the wishes of the senior bishop gave their 
consent for their introduction, conformably with the constitu- 
tion, at the next General Conference. These were the Southern 
and Western Conferences, which had always stood firmly op- 
posed to all innovations. It was a magnanimous surrender of 
preference for the sake of harmony, but it was a dangerous con- 
cession and proved unavailing, although well intended. The 
other five Conferences refused to accept the changes as a con- 
stitutional measure, because they were unwilling to acknowl- 
edge the want of power in the General Conference to effect it. 
They laid the address upon the table and there let it lie, virtual- 
ly refused to act on it, and thus tacitly avowed their determina- 
tion to carry the change into effect independently of the con- 
stitutional scruples of the bishops and other Conferences. Great 
exertions were made to effect this purpose. Many hard things 
were said and written against the senior bishop, that "he 
would not submit to the authority of the General Conference," 
"that he acted independently of the other bishops," etc. 
Against such accusations he could not condescend to make a 
public and formal defense of himself. His uniform and faithful 
administration of the laws and regulations of the General Con- 
ference, the absence of all personal and private motives to act 
contumaciously, and his life, now almost exhausted in the la- 
borious and consistent discharge of the duties of his ministerial 
and episcopal offices were their satisfactory refutation. He 
enjoyed that which is far preferable to applause or to success, 
the consciousness of deserving them. His own heart and con- 
science bore evidence to his integrity, and he could with humble 
confidence appeal to his great Master in proof of the fact that 
not for himself, but for the sake of the Church, he had taken 
his course. To those acquainted with the peculiar sensitiveness, 

266 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of the Bishop, it would be needless to say that the temporary 
alienation of many old friends and the attacks upon his charac- 
ter and the government of the Church which this controversy 
was the occasion of producing were to him exceedingly painful. 
The most mortifying circumstance in this affair was that his 
motives were impugned and the Discipline denounced as "anti- 
republican," "popish," etc. And yet, while he could not un- 
der any array of circumstances succumb to what he regarded 
as a palpable violation of the constitution which he had pledged 
his solemn vow to sustain, he did so far try to conciliate the ad- 
vocates of the measure as to seek and advise its incorporation 
into the laws of the Church upon constitutional principles. Un- 
der the circumstances, this may have been best; and, as it turned 
out, doubtless it was politic and practically harmless; but, oc- 
cupying the standpoint we do in the history of the Church, we 
are compelled to confess our opinion that he owed it to his clear, 
strong conviction of the impolicy and highly injurious tendency 
of the change in the organic laws of the Church, to have stood 
firmly and uncompromisingly against the whole of it, from first 
to last. And yet there were several considerations which pal- 
liate, if they do not fully justify, his course. The excitement 
growing out of the long-continued agitation of the question, and 
especially out of the position which the bishop elect and him- 
self felt compelled to take, was very considerable and threatened 
the peace of the Church. The bishops themselves were divided 
upon it, the senior bishop regarding the resolutions not only as 
impolitic but revolutionary, if passed without the concurrence 
of the Annual Conferences; one of his colleagues admitting their 
"infringement of the constitution," but willing to see them go 
into operation under existing circumstances; and the other, 
without an open avowal of his opinion as to their constitutional 
character, evidently favoring their adoption. To secure har- 
mony in the episcopacy, maintain the authority of the constitu- 
tion, and, by yielding his preference as to the mode of adminis- 
tering the polity of the Cuurch, obtain a fresh indorsement of 
the constitution, and thus restore peace without the sacrifice of 
a vital principle, were certainly his objects. Perhaps the con- 
sideration which least influenced him was that in proposing and 
recommending the change he vindicated his office as well as his 
own motives and character from imputations. These weighty 
reasons preponderated, and, as we have seen, the "compromise 
measure " was proposed to the Annual Conferences. Fortunate- 
ly for the Church, the effort failed; but by the manner and 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 267- 

cause of its failure, the odium of its defeat did not attach to him 
or to those who agreed with him in sentiment. He yielded 
everything but principle for peace; but the advocates of the res- 
olutions, while professing to have no wish for anything more, 
refused to accept them, unless at what he regarded as the sac- 
rifice of the constitution. And it is ever thus with innovations, 
both in Church and State. The intelligent and sincere who 
commence the work are soon pushed aside or impelled forward 
to ends they did not contemplate at the beginning by those less 
scrupulous and more ambitious. Parties are formed, passions 
are excited, and the positions gained by concession become the 
grounds of further demands. And hence the danger of beginning 
to innovate. 

One good effect, however, resulted from the agitation of this 
subject. The Church was aroused to the study of our system 
of government, and the great majority of her most intelligent 
and sincere friends were brought to see and appreciate its na- 
ture and scriptural character. The spirit of innovation culmi- 
nated, among the traveling preachers, at the General Confer- 
ence of 1820. Its fate was sealed by the discussions and devel- 
opments which grew out of the action of this body, and its 
strength was never afterwards so great among the traveling 
ministry; for although, as we shall see hereafter, it continued for 
several years to agitate the Church, yet it had received its 
death wound and was slowly but surely dying. And if the ques- 
tion be asked, To whom is the Church most indebted for her 
preservation from the evils which this change must have oc- 
casioned? we answer, To William McKendree and Joshua Soule. 

As an illustration of some of the foregoing remarks and in 
historical connection with this attempt to modify the govern- 
ment of the Church by diminishing the power of the epsicopacy, 
we may here advert to a subject which constitutes a very im- 
portant chapter in the history of American Methodism and can- 
not be overlooked in the "Life of Bishop McKendree." We 
mean the question of lay representation. In almost every effort 
which had been made at innovation upon the polity and usages 
of Methodism, from the days of Mr. O'Kelly, more or less 
stress had been laid upon the propriety of introducing lay 
representatives into the Annual and General Conferences. 
The leaders in all these movements, aware of the general and 
strong attachment of our countrymen to the principle of civil 
liberty and to representation in the law-making department in 
our political institutions as a means of preserving our rights, 

268 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

and, ignoring the radical difference between the powers and 
rights that belong to men as citizens of civil government and 
such as pertain to them as members of an ecclesiastical organ- 
ization, have always availed themselves of the popular cry for 
"equal rights." Like the cry of persecution, with which it has 
been often connected, it strikes a chord in the American bosom 
which, whether proceeding from demagogues or patriots, from 
oppressed innocence or canting hypocrisy, rarely fails to excite 
sympathy. And so strong is this tendency that even in Church 
politics a great many persons, instead of holding their passions 
in abeyance until they calmly inquire whether the oppression 
complained of be real or only imaginary, at once take the part 
of the disaffected against the discipline and usages of the Church. 
So it has ever been, and so perhaps it will always be; although 
the history of such agitators among us has proved the truth of 
the old saying that "those who are loudest in their complaints 
against oppression are least disposed to submit to be governed 
and most ready to be despotic when they get the power." Doubt- 
less the effort which the itinerant preachers were making to 
transfer the selection of presiding elders from the bishops to 
themselves enlisted the sympathies of many of the local preach- 
ers and laymen of the Church in their behalf and kindled afresh 
the almost extinguished spark of disaffection on this question. 
Some of those among the ministry who favored the change were 
secretly in favor of a congregational instead of an itinerant sys- 
tem and naturally sided with the policy to introduce laymen 
into all the Conferences of the Church; while it is certain that 
many of the wisest and best of those who advocated the former 
change opposed the latter. But, as a general rule, those itiner- 
ant preachers opposed to the suspended resolutions were against 
lay representation, while those of them who favored the latter 
were also friendly to the former. 

Many local preachers and lay members, especially in the 
Baltimore and Philadelphia Conferences, became excited upon 
the subject of their rights and privileges. The spirit of inno- 
vation became epidemic, and during the period from 1820 to 
1824, and even to 1828, the Church was constantly agitated 
upon the subject of lay representation. A paper was estab- 
lished at Philadelphia, called the Wesleyan Repository, to which 
several popular preachers contributed largely. It soon became 
clamorous for reform, and with increased bitterness discussed 
the subject until it seemed determined to change or destroy the 
government of the Church. Its radicalism alarmed the fears of 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 269 

some who had espoused the cause of the suspended resolutions 
and brought them to see that whatever speculative sentiments 
tend to a disruption of the Church ought to be abandoned for 
the sake of the Church. The Repository was superseded by The 
Mutual Rights, published in Baltimore. The contest which en- 
sued was a most unfortunate and mischievous one and was not 
quieted for many years, resulting, in 1827, in the secession of 
many ministers and members and the formation of The Meth- 
odist Protestant Church. The South and West, having always 
been the friends of the Church as it is and opposed to sudden 
and serious changes in her economy, were less affected by this 
agitation than the East and North and consequently suffered 
in a much smaller degree. One benefit, however, resulting from 
this controversy was that the evils of agitation became so pal- 
pable that those seeking the passage of the suspended resolutions 
lost sympathy of the Church generally, many regarding radical- 
ism as the offshoot of the attempted innovation upon the power 
of the episcopacy. And, although this connection was dis- 
claimed by many of the pure-minded and excellent men who orig- 
inally advocated the election of presiding elders and was op- 
posed most sternly and ably by some of them, yet, however 
undesigned on the part of such, doubtless this opposition to the 
existing rules of the Church in reference to presiding elders did 
contribute to the excitement which resulted so disastrously. 
The moral taught by this part of the history of the Church but 
repeats the lesson lately suggested, that to innovate upon a 
well-tried and efficient system of Church government in order 
to carry out speculative views or conform the polity of the 
Church to that of the State is a dangerous experiment, since no 
one can foresee the end of such agitation. 1 

The excitement growing out of this attempt of the "reformers" 
was an additional ingredient in Bishop McKendree's cup of anx- 

*The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 
1866, tendered to her laymen and local preachers a representation in her 
Annual and General Conferences without its having been demanded and 
when no other vexed question was connected with it. But in the case re- 
fered to above, this question was associated with others of a most serious 
character, involving the efficiency, if not the very existence, of episcopacy 
and itinerancy. To have yielded then in one instance would have neces- 
sitated other and more damaging concessions, or the quiet of the Church 
would not have been secured. How this change will affect the Church in 
the South remains as yet an unsolved problem. The writer hopes and be- 
lieves it will work well. 

270 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

iety for the four years succeeding the General Conference of 
1820. He seems to have anticipated that the struggle among 
the preachers would lead to another, in which the laity would 
imitate them by claiming their supposed rights also; and we 
shall see that his opposition to this measure was such that he 
would enter into no compromise. 

In resuming the examination of the Journal of Bishop Mc- 
Kendree, we find that he remained in Baltimore, and at Dr. 
Wilkins's, near the city, for some time after the General Confer- 
ence of 1820 closed its session. He had been excused from the 
regular official work on accout of his want of health and advised 
to seek its restoration. He was therefore under obligation to 
take only such exercise as might conduce to this end. Having 
recovered a little strength, he very soon began to feel restless, 
and, having been so fortunate as to obtain the Rev. Henry 
Smith as his traveling companion, they started from Dr. Wil- 
kins's on a tour of preaching and visiting the Churches. The 
following account is given of that tour from "Recollections of 
an Old Itinerant," by H. Smith, p. 268: 

"We visited Churches and families on our way to Frederick 
City namely, Ward 's, Bennett's, Elliot's, and Gore's and then 
A. Warfield's. In every place the Bishop was able to preach, 
to the edification of the Church and left a blessing in every 
neighborhood and family. Thence we went to Liberty, Win- 
stead's, Willis's, and Frederick; thence to Samuel Phillip's; 
thence to Thomas Key's. . . . The Bishop preached at Charles- 
town, Brucetown, Thomas Baldwin's, Winchester, Stephens- 
burg, Crum's Meetinghouse, the White House, Sharpsburg, and 
in other places, besides delivering many exhortations in families 
and private companies. In every place he was received as an 
angel of God and his labors were greatly blessed to the people. 
He made use of the Shannondale and Sulphur Springs waters, 
and also those of the Balinda Springs, near Sharpsburg, and 
gained strength. 

"On our return to Baltimore, we attended a camp meeting 
on Frederick Circuit. The Bishop's preaching put me in mind 
of former days, when he went forth in the vigor of his strength 
and preached in the power and demonstration of the Spirit. 
Our visit to Virginia did not only improve the Bishop's health, 
but was attended with great good to others. We soon returned 
to Baltimore, and about the last of September left the city for 
the South. We moved on slowly, visiting the Churches in Wash- 
ington, Georgetown, Alexandria, Dumfries, Fredericksburg, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 271 

and many neighborhoods on our way to Williamsburg. From 
thence we proceeded to Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suf- 
folk, Summerton, Murfreesboro, and through Tarboro, to New- 
bern, N. C.; from thence to Wilmington and Georgetown, and 
so on, to Charleston, S. C., preaching in many country places, 
as well as in cities and towns. 

"We entered Charleston a few days before Christmas and had 
summer's heat. The gardens and everything looked 'gay and 
green/ green peas in full bloom and fine lettuce in abundance. 
But before we left there (about January 1, 1821), we had heavy 
frost, and on our way to Columbia, where the South Carolina 
Conference was to meet, we had snow, rain, sleet, and ice an inch 
thick. It was disagreeably cold, and great were the sufferings 
of the people, white as well as colored. The houses were gen- 
erally open and the people thinly clad and not prepared for such 
a change. Some of the oldest people said they had never seen 
such a winter. There is something very disagreeable in a South- 
ern winter's air. 

"In Columbia, S. C., we met the Conference. Bishop George 
presided, and a body of more holy, loving, and zealous ministers 
of Jesus Christ I never saw. I never saw more strictness ob- 
served in the examination of characters in any Conference. 
Plain, humble, cross-bearing men are its members, as ready to 
wait on themselves as any other Methodist preachers, and re- 
markably kind and friendly to servants." 

From Columbia, S. C., the Bishop, with Brother Smith still 
as his traveling companion, came back to the Virginia Conference 
which was held at Raleigh, N. C., on Februray 28, 1821. Here, 
leaving the Bishop in the care of Lewis Skidmore, Smith re- 
turned to Baltimore, remarking (p. 271) upon this tour: "Per- 
haps in no part of my life did I serve the Church more faithfully 
and usefully than while I was helping along our aged and afflicted 
Superintendent. ' ' 

The following letter from the Bishop to the Rev. Joshua Soule, 
is dated Raleigh, N. C., February 27, 1821: 

My Dear Brother: My health, in some good degree, has improved, and 
I begin to apprehend that not much more improvement is to be expected; 
and yet such is my remaining debility that I am utterly unable to do the 
duties of an effective man. 

Such is the state of the roads of this country, with the shortness of the 
time between this .Conference and that of Baltimore, that it will be 
impossible for me to get there in time. Indeed, Bishop George thinks he 
cannot accomplish the journey in time. Therefore, at the earnest solicita- 

272 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

tion of Bishop George, I have given up Brother Smith to go on with his 
horse, that the Bishop may follow on in the stage after Conference. Per- 
haps we might have found some other way; but the experiment has con- 
vinced me that the benefit which the Church would derive from my ser- 
vices will not justify me in making such a sacrifice of my remaining 
strength. Hence I have relinquished the idea of pursuing the Conferences 
any farther for the present. 

You have too much sensibility to suppose that this conclusion has been 
arrived at without some feeling on my part. This is increased by the obli- 
gation I brought myself under to attend the New York Conference, if the 
Lord permit. I have pursued this intention as long as I could see my way 
clear and now give it up reluctantly, though with a clear conscience. 

From these considerations, I have determined more fully to adopt the 
advice of the General Conference, as also that of my physicians and friend- 
ly counselors, in respect to my course of conduct in order to canvalescence. 

I believe the Lord called me to the ministry, but I was called to the su- 
perintendency by the General Conference, and by the same authority I 
am released from the duty and responsibility of that station. Consequent- 
ly I feel pretty much at rest while I contemplate what lies before me in my 
expected course. 

The course I took at the last General Conference respecting the sus- 
pended resolutions to lay the subject before the Annual Conferences 
must be carried out. I intend to pursue the same course taken by Bishop 
Asbury and myself when the constitutionality of appointing the Genesee 
Conference was called in question. I expect to begin at the next Ohio 
Conference and so go through the Conferences. I design to lay the sub- 
ject so before them as to set them completely at liberty, so far as respects 
me, as to authorize the adoption, and thus put an end to strife, if this will 
do it and thereby give additional strength to the constitution, which will 
guard us against infringements for the future. However, I do not regard 
the proposed change to be, in reality, any improvement of our system; 
and I very much doubt if it will operate for the better any length of time. 
But it is alleged that civil usages are against us, and perhaps it is the best 
we can bear; and if admitted so as to prevent future injuries, I think the 
system of government may still be carried into effect, at least so long as 
we work harmoniously together. And without this the most perfect sys- 
tem could not save us. The Lord's system of government did not continue 
to please the Israelites, and "he gave them statutes that were not good." 

I have but few confidential associates, nor do I seek more; consequently, 
I have to stand too much alone in the midst of such momentous affairs. 
This made the contemplated interview with yourself so much the more 
important to me. But I learn patiently to submit to disappointments. 
I desire, dear brother, to hear from you. Please write freely and senti- 

I observe in a letter to Brother Mason that I consented to your con- 
tinuing in New York, intending you should understand it before I could 
write to you. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 273 

My respects to Brother Phoebus and inquiring friends. Present my 
respects to Sister Soule, and remember me at the throne of grace. 

Your brother, W. MCKENDREE. 


The Bishop received the following letter from Joshua Soule, 
in Baltimore, who, after the General Conference of 1820, having 
declined the Agency of the Book Concern, was stationed in the 
city of New York: 

NEW YORK, September 1, 1820. 

Dear Bishop: Your letter of the fourteenth ultimo came to me while 
at the camp meeting on Long Island, and I am unable to express the satis- 
faction it gave me, especially when I learned that by the blessing of a gra- 
cious Providence, your health, which was so precarious when I left you, 
was improving with a prospect of its being confirmed. 

It is impossible for me to describe the sensations of my mind during the 
recent session of the General Conference, when I saw your feeble state, 
your emaciated frame, your strength prostrated, and your debilitated con- 
dition, like a reed shaken by the wind. I feared, not for you, but for the 
Church of God committed to your charge. I strove in vain to free myself 
from the painful apprehension that in all human probability your super- 
intendence of the great work was near its close at the very time that the 
state of the Church, both in the ministry and membership, was such as to 
require the continuance of your oversight. My chief source of consolation 
during this conflict was a firm persuasion of the wisdom and rectitude of 
the divine councils and of the unerring superintendence of the providence 
of God. To the events of this providence, however dark and unscrutable 
to the comprehension of limited agency, I desire to bow with humble sub- 
mission and walk by faith when sight is not permitted to guide me. But 
as it has been a matter of prayer with me that the great Head of the Church 
would raise you up and preserve you as a light and shield to our Zion, so 
shall the answer of it be a subject of thanksgiving and praise. 

With reference to my conduct at the last General Conference, although 
it was not dictated by passion, but was the result of the most calm and de- 
liberate reflection of which I was capable under the circumstances, the 
time which has elapsed since that memorable period has afforded me the 
opportunity of reviewing that whole matter with sober deliberation, and 
after the most careful, and, I trust, the most impartial investigation, I 
feel a satisfaction in my own mind in recurring to the measures I then pur- 
sued, for the absence of which no earthly emolument could be a considera- 

I firmly believed at the time, and have perceived no evidence to change 
my opinion, that the resolution of the General Conference by which the 
presiding elders were made elective by the Annual Conferences was a vio- 
lation of the constitution and a radical change of the government of the 
Church. With this conviction I might have gone silently, and perhaps 
without opposition, to the altar of consecration. But how should I have 

274 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

stood in .the judgment of my own mind? or how should I be able to answer 
for this silence to that great religious body to which the voice of the Con- 
ference had placed me in the most responsible relation? I think, consider- 
ing the nature, continuance, and extent of the controversy, he must have 
been a superficial observer of human nature who should suppose that the 
subject would rest sufficient for the time being, that the principle was ceded 
and the foundation laid for the perfecting of the contemplated building. 
The best defense which could be made at the future period would be weak 
and ineffectual after such an obvious relinquishment of the grand principle 
upon which our ecclesiastical polity rests. Under this view of the subject, 
had I entered upon the duties of a general superintendent with submission, 
I should have felt myself bound to give a reason for my conduct to hun- 
dreds of thousands who are already in the fellowship of the Church and 
who have subscribed to our form of episcopacy. This was a responsibility 
which I was conscious I could not sustain. Since the General Conference 
I have frequently thought that, under the extraordinary circumstances in 
which I was placed, I may have spoken or acted with apparent disrespect 
to you or Bishops George and Roberts or to the Conference. Should you 
or they have marked anything of this kind, I deeply regret it and can give 
assurance that no irreverence was designed. And, under the necessity of 
differing in opinion, I wished to express that difference in as respectful 
language as I could, consistently with that frankness which I have ever 
valued as one of the brightest ornaments of the human character. 

I had reason to expect that on my return to this section of the work my 
situation would not be very pleasant. But the most profound silence has 
prevailed with respect to the business of the Conference, and I am treated 
with much greater apparent respect than before. 

As I was not able to control my temporal circumstances without a sac- 
rifice which I was unable to bear and, at the same time, receiving a letter 
from Brother Roszel in which he expressed an opinion that, all things con- 
sidered, it might be as well for me to remain here for the present year, I 
received an appointment in the city. At the same time I received instruc- 
tions from Bishop George to remove to the Baltimore Conference at its next 

This is my inclination and desire. But I wish it to be explicitly under- 
stood that I hold myself in perfect readiness to move to any part of the 
work where it shall be judged most expedient. I have resigned all ideas 
of a local nature. House and home affect me no more, and I have cause 
to praise God that after a long and painful struggle my dear companion 
is fully with me in this view. I owe no man anything and, though poor, I 
have enough. I covet no man's silver or gold or apparel, but prove by 
happy experience that " godliness with contentment is great gain." 

You will doubtless see Bishop George in Baltimore or its vicinity and 
receive from him a narrative of the disastrous events which have transpired 
in this station, suffice it to say that several hundreds have separated them- 
selves from the fellowship of our Church, established an independent con- 
gregation, and embodied under a system of government which secures a 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 275 

perfect equality of rights and powers to every member, male and female, 
properly speaking, an ecclesiastical democracy in the most extensive sense 
of the word. 1 

The poor deluded Africans, both in the city and in Brooklyn, have de- 
clared themselves independent of us and are, it is to be feared, approaching 
a state of the wildest disorder and of ruin. Deeply involved in debt and 
without the means of extricating themselves, their churches mortgaged for 
security, and the periods of payment approaching, their situation is truly 
lamentable. While they were subject to us there was a disposition in the 
public mind to aid them, but convinced that they are incapable of govern- 
ing themselves and consequently that assistance would be thrown away 
were it given in their present state, that disposition has subsided. 

Various have been the ostensible causes which have led to these un- 
happy effects. But there is a real cause which is unperceived or, if per- 
ceived, is unacknowledged. I think, soon after my appointment to the 
charge of the Book Concern, I communicated to you my persuasion that 
serious and very unpleasant events awaited us in this city. Whether the 
grounds on which this persuasion rested were assigned, I do not recollect. 
I was then the silent and unofficious observer of men and measures, and I 
clearly saw that the seed was sown and had taken such deep root as to 
warrant the expectation of a copious harvest. 

I frequently heard the cry of "popery," "ecclesiastical tyranny," "un- 
limited power," "oppression," etc., from those who had promised to "act as 
sons in the gospel," and with some of those who had sounded the alarm 
there was too strong an appearance of the existence of what they would be 
thought so much to oppose. To this cry there was a responsive action in 
the official department of the Church; and so powerful was the sentiment 
of "equality" and "independence," that it was extremely difficult, not to say 
impossible, for the proper officer to keep the official body, when met for 
business, subject to the common rules of order. Through the official mem- 
bers this strange fire was kindled in the classes. The consequence was 
that the ministry was not only treated with disrespect, but with contempt. 
To be charged unblushingly with deceit, hypocrisy, and falsehood became 
the order of the day. At length it comes to issue on a plain and unequivocal 
point of discipline. The question is, Shall it be carried into effect? A num- 
ber of the influential official characters say it shall not. The preacher in 
charge says it shall at all hazards. It is a point which admits of no modi- 
fication; and the official men in opposition immediately resign their office 
and withdraw from the Church. The explosion is tremendous; many 
leaders follow the example and carry their classes with them. 

Admitting this to be the true state of the case, you will perceive how 
difficult it is either to prevent or cure the evil. The fatal source of it is 
deep and wide. Happy would I be if I could believe it would stop in this 
city, but the deadly principle is too extensively diffused. You will also 
perceive how critically I am situated, entertaining these views of the 

'This is doubtless an allusion to the secession of a preacher Jamea M. Stillwell and about 
three hundred members of the Church in the city of New York. 

276 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

origin and progress of this schism. Pray for me, that I may be guided by 
that "wisdom which is from above." how ardently I could wish that 
you could visit us and aid us by your council and your influence! 

With reference to the acts of the General Conference in relation to local 
preachers, my situation at the time of the passage of the rule was such as 
to prevent me from analyzing it in that way its importance required. I 
have since given it a careful investigation, the result of which is that it is 
attended with several serious difficulties which I must make the subject 
of another communication. But I need not suggest to you how important 
it is that the greatest prudence be observed in all communications on this 
subject. We have reached an eventful epoch in our history. May the great 
Head of the Church preserve us in the unity of the apostolic faith and in the 
harmony and simplicity of the gospel order of discipline! 

Yours, most affectionately, JOSHUA SOULE. 

A few days after the foregoing letter was written, the following 
communication was dispatched. As it explains its object and 
illustrates the character of the Bishop by the influence which it 
was thought he could exert over the disaffected portion of the 
Methodists in New York, we insert it: 

NEW YORK, September 7, 1820. 

Dear Bishop: At a meeting of the stationed preachers in this city, to- 
gether with the presiding elder of the district yesterday, I was requested 
to write to you immediately, requesting you, if possible, to visit this sta- 
tion without delay. It is believed by the preachers that your presence and 
council at this crisis of affairs here might be of essential benefit to the 
Church. The principle actors in the late separation, while they appear to 
have lost all confidence in the men placed in charge, manifest the most 
implicit confidence in you; and some of them have expressed a desire for 
you to come, and have inquired after you with apparent solicitude, saying 
if you had been here, things would have been otherwise, 

For myself, I have no expectation that your influence would bring back 
to the Church any considerable number of those who have departed from 
us; yet I am fully persuaded that a visit from you might be of great use 
under the present circumstances. The grounds of this persuasion are of 
such a character as to render it difficult to communicate by letter. Let 
nothing of a pecuniary kind prevent you from visiting us. I pledge my- 
self for the reimbursement of your expenses. I would have been in Balti- 
more to present the case to you and attend you to this place but for the 
imperious call for my services in this city. 

You will please to give me an answer immediately on receiving this; and, 
if it is possible for you to visit us, let me know the probable time when we 
may expect your arrival; otherwise, let me know where I may meet you 
by mail from this time until the South Carolina Conference. 

Yours, with esteem and respect, JOSHUA SOULE. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 277 

We cannot deny ourselves and our readers the gratification 
of inserting the following very interesting letter. The writer 
was then the stationed preacher in the city of Savannah, which 
was visited by that most fearful pestilence, the yellow fever. 
Multitudes had died and thousands had fled the city, but our 
beloved brother had braved the danger and, with his family, 
stayed in his charge and faithfully and alone ministered to the 
religious wants of the striken city. In this season of peril and 
affliction, the Bishop had assured him by letter of his sympathy 
and encouraged him to duty by promising to remember him 
in prayer. Those who may have been similarly situated can 
appreciate the feelings of the writer, a man who never deserted 
the post of danger and whose triumphant death in the midst 
of arduous duty has afforded a suitable finale to such a life: 

SAVANNAH, October 31, 1820. 

Very Dear and Reverend Sir: Your most kind letter was as dew to the 
parched grass. Brother Hall, of Norfolk, had before given me the long- 
wished-for intelligence of your better health and intimated its being prob- 
able that you would attend our Conference. That you had purposed to 
do so, I was not uninformed, but I greatly feared your want of health. 

I do most heartily join you, my dear father, in blessing and praising 
God for all his mercies to you and the Church; and surely you have my 
humble prayers that you may more amd more prevail against all evil and 
live to the edification and comfort of the Church. 

I cannot tell you with how lively a feeling of love and thankfullness I 
read the expression of your good wishes for me, how sincerely I thank you 
for praying for me. Well, it is even as you desired. The dreary, heartless 
scenes of woe upon woe, disease, and death, and desolation, are passing or 
passed away, and I still live. My wife still lives, my children and my serv- 
ants all are alive and in health. We have had no death or sickness in 
our family through all this sickening, dying time. Blessed be the Lord God 
who hath kept us for his word's sake and that none may be discouraged 
when sent to serve the Church in this valley of the shadow of death! 

I am unable to give you anything like an account of the state of the 
Church in this place. For nearly two months we have had (strictly) no 
Church no sacrament, no love feast, no class meeting. Our people have 
been scattered abroad, wherever they could find a retreat from the deso- 
lating sickliness of the city. I might almost say, I was left alone. But 
hope anticipates a brighter day at hand. O that God may return with the 
people and fill us with salvation! 

I said we have had no Church, no class meetings. We have had nothing 
that is peculiarly ours; and perhaps my situation for the last six or seven 
weeks has been as novel as it has been difficult and delicate. 

When the character and prevalence of our death-bearing disease had so 
alarmed the city as to drive six-sevenths of its entire white population from 

278 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

their homes, our people fled with the rest; and I had not remaining steward 
or leader or as many members as would form a class. Our Church was 
situated in the most fatal and the most deserted part of the city and re- 
mote from the remaining inhabitants generally. I was solicited to remove 
preaching to the new Presbyterian Church, which was recommended from 
its being in a central and more healthful part of the city. And this was 
further urged because the remnants of the Baptist and Presbyterian con- 
gregations, as well as the few remaining ones of my own, were all looking 
to me for the services of the ministry. It was also proposed that the pews 
should be made free and that collections should be made upon the same 
plan and for the same uses as in the Methodist Church. Under these cir- 
cumstances, and for the present distress only, I consented. As far as I can 
yet judge, the measure has had a good effect. On next Sabbath I return 
to our church. 

I hope the state of religion in our Conference generally is better than 
the last year. Accounts are good from the upper parts of this State. 
Columbia lives, and Camden is all alive. Poor Savannah ! We trust in the 
Lord that we shall be saved from dying. Charleston is as formerly, little 
increase, but no declension of the Church. A local preacher, by the name 
of Triggs, has been laboring on the south of the Altamaha River, just 
above the Satilla Circuit. He tells me that he has formed a two weeks' 
circuit and has joined fifty in society. They wish a circuit preacher. Triggs 
has been employed in this good work constantly since the month of May. 
He represents the people as being very destitute and the face of the 
country as being better than within the Satilla Circuit. 

With the sincerest reverence and affection, your dutiful son, 


P. S. Please give my love to the brethren, Hall and Smith. W. C. 

It was about this period that the attention of the Bishop was 
turned with great interest to the condition of the Indian tribes 
within the United States. But the newly organized Missionary 
Society was not able to supply the funds necessary to carry for- 
ward his plan. He aroused the preachers to the importance of 
the enterprise, planned and advocated the system of general 
and systematic contributions for missionary operations, and 
may be justly regarded as the father of the missionary finan- 
cial plan which has already done so much and promises to do 
vastly more for the conversion of the children of the forest as 
well as for other fields of missionary effort. It was during the 
early part of the year 1822 that he resolved to send a missionary 
to the Cherokee Indians, and the writer, at the Bishop's request, 
had consented to undertake the task. But the state of his 
health and the remonstrances of his charge, which was likely to 
be left destitute of a preacher the remainder of the year, induced 
the Bishop to decline sending him. Not long afterwards, how- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 279 

ever, in 1823, he found others whom he appointed to that Na- 
tion, and whose success was wonderful. 

Having resolved upon attempting to Christianize the Indians, 
Dr. Capers was selected and appointed missionary to South 
Carolina Conference and to the Indians in 1821, with instruc- 
tions to visit the Choctaws should the Creeks refuse to receive 

Of course this devoted servant of the Church did not hesitate to 
enter promptly upon the duty assigned him. Brought up in af- 
fluence, accustomed to the refinements of a city life, and highly 
cultivated in mind and manners, he had cast his lot with the 
Methodists at a period in the history of the Church in South 
Carolina when it greatly needed his personal and family in- 
fluence. His position in society, his learning, talents, and zeal, 
were fully and most efficiently devoted to the cause of Method- 
ism. A train of unfortunate events had transpired in Charles- 
ton tending to divide the Church and degrade her ministry in 
popular estimation. The wealthy and intelligent portion of the 
community looked down upon the Methodist preachers with 
mingled feelings of suspicion and contempt. It remained for 
Dr. Capers to correct this state of public sentiment and by his 
purity, zeal, and eloquence to elevate both the character of the 
Church and the ministry. Born near Charleston, in 1790, of a 
family respected and honored by the whole community; a grad- 
uate of the State College, and of unquestionable personal in- 
tegrity, God seems to have raised him up for the defense and 
propagation of Methodism in that proud and chivalrous section 
of the country. In addition to all his other advantages, he 
happily blended the most bland and prepossessing manners 
with a simple Christian gravity and unstudied dignity; and, 
superadded to all, the attractions of extraordinary eloquence. 
That eloquence was not the timid and superficial counterfeit 
which too often passes for the genuine, but combined all the 
elements of true evangelical eloquence. It was instructive, per- 
suasive, pungent, powerful; full of argument and illustration, 
earnest, searching, and replete with the demonstration of the 
Holy Ghost and with power. It was impossible to form his ac- 
quaintance without being struck with his manners or to hear 
him without feeling an attraction. The Church loved him as 
much for his humility and unselfishness as she admired his tal- 
ents and success; and thousands of ears which heretofore had 
been closed by pride or prejudice to Methodist preaching, lis- 

280 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

tened with rapture and reverence to the sweet and pursuasive 
tones of his musical voice. 

The following interesting communication was addressed by 
Dr. Capers to Bishop McKendree: 

LODEBAR, August 14, 1821. 

Reverend and Dear Sir: Just a week ago I returned from an excursion 
into Georgia, in which I visited Augusta, Wrightsboro, Greensboro, Salem, 
Athens, Lexington, Elberton, and Washington, besides Camden, Columbia, 
and Edgefield Courthouse, in this State. 

On this tour I was occupied forty days and obtained $600 for the mis- 
sion. The whole amount now collected stands at about $2,800. 

To-morrow I set out for the Creeks. As far as at present I can be de- 
termined, this visit will be confined to the Creeks and is intended to ascer- 
tain whether they will receive us or not; and if they receive us, to select 
and secure a site and engage for occupying it without delay. This done, 
I purpose to return to them with a missionary, perhaps Brother Hill; or, if 
they will not admit us among them, he will accompany me to the Choctaws. 
Whether, in the event of a favorable reception among the Creeks, I ought 
to seek more than one infant mission among them, or whether, having 
planted one grain of seed in that field, I should go on to the Choctaws, re- 
mains yet to be determined. In either case, I must prefer the gospel's own 
way of disseminating itself. Two men, or a half dozen men, or men with 
their wives, or a helper each, not huddled together at the outset, but placed 
at different points, may grow into so many enlarged missions, with branch- 
es detached through the intermediate country so as to cover the whole. 

I now purpose to go directly to the agent for the Creek Nation (Colonel 
Crowell), and having delivered a letter from the Secretary of War (Mr. J. 
C. Calhoun), will concert with the agent and such other persons as I may 
approve the best introduction to the Indians. At Milledgeville I hope to 
meet with Col. Richard A. Blount, and will probably obtain an interview 
with General Mitchell, lately the agent. 

I have not been unmindful that with the Creek Indians especially it is 
of importance to distinguish between the charity of the Church and the 
policy of the government. In this work both seek the same object; but 
the Indians may be less suspicious of the one than the other. 

While in Georgia, I was careful to be informed who of the more distin- 
guished citizens of that State not immediately connected with the govern- 
ment are known to advantage among the Indians and sought the counte- 
nance of such for our mission. I now have a letter from General Mclntosh 
to the Indian chief of that name, and, when at Milledgeville, expect to re- 
ceive letters from General Mitchell and General Merriwether. Perhaps 
there are none of our countrymen who can better serve us than these 

Is it not a pity that I have not a letter from the Bishop or the bishops 
and Conference to the chiefs and council of the Nation, setting forth our 
objects and the motives that induce us to it and soliciting them to talk with 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 281 

me as their brother and the agent of the Church? I am not sanguine of 
success among this tribe, but in case of a failure I would not have it charge- 
able to any omission on our part. 

But I am sorry to say I make poor work in enlisting missionaries. 
Brother Christian G. Hill is the only preacher upon whom I can depend 
willing to enter upon the bold, blessed service. If I go to the Choctaws, 
I must make large calculations on Brother Hersey. Indeed, as moderate 
as have been my collections, I fear the want of men, more than of money, 
will give limits to our work. 

You shall hear from me as soon as anything shall have transpired be- 
tween us and the Creeks. I know you always pray for the blessing and di- 
rection of God in this great business. I have no confidence but in his prov- 
idence. As for myself, I feel every way assured of an unfitness, not to say 
inadequacy, to its accomplishment. I feel much, I fear much, and I should 
set out despairing, but that I hope for help from the Almighty and 
succor from his Spirit. 

Your son in the gospel, W. CAPERS. 

Dr. Capers succeeded in procuring two sites for missions in 
the Creek Nation, Asbury and McKendree, to which preachers 
were regularly appointed at the ensuing Conference. In a year 
or two, however, the name of McKendree was dropped from 
the Minutes, although Asbury Mission continued to be filled 
with missionaries until the Indians determined to emigrate to 
the West. Dr. Capers was also the superintendent of this work 
for three years, although filling the station of Milledgeville a 
part of the time. 

We have now arrived at an important era in the history of 
Methodism, as well as in the life of Bishop McKendree, the era 
which dates the beginning of a more systematic and vigorous 
effort to extend the blessings of the gospel, by missionary oper- 
ations, to the Indians, and to the colored people both in Ameri- 
ca and Africa, enterprises with which Bishop McKendree deeply 
sympathized and to which, by his wise and far-seeing councils, 
as well as by his official and personal influence, he greatly con- 

Among the appointees to the Cherokee Missions, at different 
times, were Andrew Jackson Crawford, William McMahon, 
Francis A. Owen, Dickson C. McLeod, John B. McFerrin and his 
brother William, A. L. P. Green, J. W. Hanner, Greenberry 
Garrett, James J. Trott, and others. Various schools and cir- 
cuits were organized. Revivals occurred in different places, and 
an increase of over six hundred members was reported in a sin- 
gle year. The Tennessee Conference furnished the missionaries 
to this tribe. 

282 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Similar scenes took place in the Choctaw Missions, and Alex- 
ander Talley, of the Mississippi Conference, published an ac- 
count of a most glorious work of grace in that Nation. Nor were 
these revivals temporary in their effects upon these aboriginal 
tribes; for long subsequent to their removal across the Missis- 
sippi River, and down to the present time, these large tribes 
have retained their Christian character and Church organiza- 
tion. The writer has repeatedly visited the Wyandottes, Dela- 
wares, Shawnees, Chickasaws, Kickapoos, Cherokees, Choctaws, 
and Creeks, held Conferences for them, and witnessed their 
piety and devotion to the cause of Christ. Thousands upon 
thousands of them have passed to the upper kingdom and their 
places in the Church are yet filled with zealous and holy suc- 
cessors. The names of McKendree, Bangs, Soule, and their 
associates, who were foremost in organizing the Missionary So- 
ciety of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1819, and of those 
heroic men who have carried into practical effect the benevo- 
lent design of that Society through fifty years of privation and 
toil will be honored while the world shall endure. 

This was the era in which American Methodism strikingly 
developed the animus of her founders and illustrated the true, 
apostolic spirit of Wesley, Coke, and Asbury. Almost simul- 
taneously the Indians, the slaves in the South, their race in 
Africa, and the natives of South America, the work of Bible 
distribution and Sunday school instruction called forth the 
sympathies and earnest efforts of the Church. It was a glorious 

Prominent, not to say foremost, in planning and sustaining 
these noble enterprises was our venerated Bishop. Such works 
engrossed his thoughts and occupied all his time and energies. 
He thought and cared for little else. His whole life was one 
long, yearning effort to spread the pure gospel of Christ over all 
classes of men. He was always planning and working for this 
end, even to his last hours. 

In looking back to the events alluded to in this chapter and 
to the noble-hearted and devoted men who were the leaders and 
agents in arousing and developing the energies of the Church, 
the writer, who began his itinerant career in the fall of 1817, 
feels a grateful satisfaction in having had a personal acquaint- 
ance with many of them. Few of them survive, but their mem- 
ories and their deeds will ever live in the respect and affection 
of Methodists. 


Tennesse Conference in 1823 Bishops McKendree and George present 
Vertigo McKendree 's purpose to cross the mountains in the winter 
abandoned The promise to take him to Baltimore in the spring 
Starts in March, 1824 Companions in travel Difficulties on the route 
Crosses the Cumberland Mountains Winton's Wilkerson's Cross- 
es the Alleghany Mountains The night at the hut Crosses the Yadkin 
in a canoe Wilkesboro Salem Guilford Battle Ground The effect of 
that battle in 1791 Person County Crosses Roanoke River At Tay- 
lor's Boydtown Adam's Crossing Meherrin River Calls on the 
families of his friends on his route R. C. Boothe's In Petersburg, Va. 
Richmond Alexandria Georgetown At Judge McLean's Mc- 
Kinney's Mr. Calhoun's letter Dr. Bascom Chaplain to Congress 
In Baltimore W. Wilkins Dr. Samuel Baker Impression made by 
the tour. 

ON November 26, 1823, the Tennessee Annual Con/erence 
began its session in Huntsville, Ala. Bishops McKendree and 
George attended. The health of the former was very infirm 
from a complication of chronic diseases, and his strength was 
nearly exhausted from travel and exposure, having recently at- 
tended the Missouri and Kentucky Conferences; yet he would 
undertake to preside when invited to do so. On one occasion, 
and during the pendency of some rather perplexing business, 
he became a little excited and confused from vertigo. It was the 
first, and, indeed, the only time, the writer ever saw him so in 
the chair. His old and faithful friend, Thomas Logan Douglass, 
observed his embarrassment and modestly assisted to relieve 
him upon the question of order under consideration. After the 
session of the day had closed, the same friend visited him pri- 
vately and told him he had noticed he was suffering from verti- 
go; and when he should find himself in that condition, he ought 
not to consent to take the chair. The Bishop took the sugges- 
tion very kindly, thanked him, but seemed dejected at the ap- 
prehension of becoming useless in the Church. What old and 
laborious minister who has come to the "sear and yellow leaf of 
life" cannot sympathize with him in these feelings? 

After the close of the Conference, Brother Douglass and the 
writer waited upon the Bishop to ascertain his contemplated 
movements before the ensuing General Conference. He replied 
that he must be in Baltimore by May 1, and that to be certain 

284 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

of it, he must start forthwith to cross the mountains. We re- 
minded him it was then about December 1, the roads were al- 
ready bad, the weather cold, and the distance so great that, be- 
fore he could make it, he would be caught in the snowstorms of 
the mountains and be compelled to take refuge in some cabin, 
where he would find himself without acquaintances or comforts; 
that, in view of his feeble health, we could not consent to see him 
start on such a journey, especially without a traveling compan- 
ion. We therefore advised him to remain with us until the 
spring should open, and promised that if he would do so, we, 
being delegates to the General Conference, would go with him 
to Baltimore. After hesitating awhile, he yielded to our re- 
monstrances, with the proviso we should start whenever he 
should require and travel at such stages as he could bear. 

The winter of 1823-4 he spent in Middle Tennessee, alter- 
nating between his brother James's, in Summer County, Nash- 
ville, and his brother-in-law, Nathanael Moore's, near Colum- 
bia, preaching whenever he could, meeting the classes occasion- 
ally, and corresponding with old friends. 

Early in March, 1824, notice was given us that we must be 
ready to comply with our promise in a few more days, as he 
would start on his journey to Baltimore. The winter had been 
a very cold and wet one, the spring opened slowly, and the roads 
were horribly muddy. We found him quite feeble and scarcely 
able to sit up. But go he must, and start he would. For a week 
or two during the past winter, the writer had been engaged, at 
his dictation, in preparing an address to the General Conference, 
explaining his views as to the constitutionality and expediency 
of the questions which had agitated the General Conference and 
vindicating his own course in the premises. He also dictated a 
valedictory address to the Conference, both of which documents 
were to be presented if, by any means, he stiould be prevented 
from attending it. r During the process of composing these ad- 
dresses, his accustomed caution and fine taste in the selection 
of the simplest and most expressive words were very strikingly 
exhibited. These documents constituted our recreation, when- 
ever a leisure hour occurred, throughout that whole tour, from 
March 10 to May 1. They were transcribed, or rather written 
almost anew, about three times, amended, revised, and cor- 
rected with the greatest possible care. Every word was weighed , 
every sentence criticized to a degree which gave a new appre- 
hension of the labor of composing. 

Our company consisted of the Bishop in his barouche drawn 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 285 

by two small but excellent horses; Mr. and Mrs. Douglass on 
horseback, neither of them weighing less than two hundred 
pounds; their faithful servant Aaron, leading a pack horse; and 
the writer on horseback. Sometimes he would ride my horse 
a little, especially when the road became difficult or endangered 
an upset, but usually he kept his seat in the carriage while I 

We passed up the Cumberland River, spending a night with 
his old colaborer and friend, the father-in-law of Brother Doug- 
lass, the Rev. John McGee; thence recrossing the river at the 
mouth of Caney Fork, we struck out along a very rugged road, 
the old trail of the emigrants to the western country, for the 
Cumberland Mountains. We found the roads exceedingly bro- 
ken and rough. To add to our troubles, torrents of rain poured 
upon us. The unbridged streams were swollen so as to endanger 
our safety, and houses were few and comforts scanty. Our stages 
were short, sometimes we were compelled to halt and tie up for 
a day. Occasionally the Bishop was so wearied and painful he 
would get out and lie down to rest on the side of the road. 

Descending the mountain, we crossed the beautiful Clinch 
River; spent a delightful Sabbath at Kingston; preached to 
large congregations; visited some of the Bishop's old friends, 
the Wintons and others; proceeded through Knoxville to Straw- 
berry Plains, resting a day and night with his valued former fel- 
low laborer, the Rev. Thomas Wilkerson, 1 of precious memory, 
and near Jonesboro encountered the Alleghany Mountains. 
Our tour across this mountain was, if possible, more disagree- 
able than over the Cumberland; but at last it was accomplished, 
and just at nightfall near the foot of the mountain we found 
quarters at a miserable little hut. It was our only chance. It 

Thomas Wilkerson was received on trial in 1793. After traveling ten 
years in the Virginia Conference, he located and removed to the West. 
Here he resumed his labors and was very useful late in life. He married an 
excellent lady, and their house was a delightful resting place for the travel- 
worn and weary old Bishop. Mr. Wilkerson had traveled extensively in the 
West as well as in the East and was universally esteemed for his talents 
and piety. His simplicity of manners, his dignity, amiability, and remark- 
ably good sense gave him great influence among all classes and particularly 
among the most intelligent. After his readmission into the itinerancy, 
his name continued upon the Minutes down to 1850. I have often thought 
that in his intellectual, moral, and social characteristics he strikingly re- 
sembled Bishop Roberts. Bishop McKendree had known him many years 
and loved him highly, regarding him as singularly prudent and reliable in 

286 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

was getting dark, no other house for several miles, and the Bish- 
op was sick and in great pain. Indeed, he was almost utterly 
exhausted. We carried him into the house and laid him half 
dead upon a miserable bed in a dirty room, which served as a 
parlor, bedroom, dining room, and kitchen. After supper, of 
which none of our company partook but the Bishop's driver and 
our colored companion, there is a distinct recollection that some- 
body, not the colored man, fed, washed off, and plentifully 
greased the legs of three jaded horses. Then returning to the 
hut, through a drenching rain, he found that he must share with 
the Bishop a very narrow bed or seek sleep upon his blanket on 
the floor. 

Next morning was the blessed Sunday! It had rained all 
night, and every little mountain brook now brawled and foamed 
as it dashed headlong toward the valley. Now, what was to be 
done? To stay there, even on Sunday, was out of the question, 
unless it was sinful not todoso. The Bishop had neither eaten nor 
slept. He was feverish, nervous, and profoundly silent, lying 
on his wretched bed with closed eyes. Brother Douglass and the 
writer held a consultation. We learned that the Yadkin River 
was nine miles ahead : it was a fearful mountain torrent when 
swelled by rain; if not crossed immediately, it would detain us 
several days, as there was no ferryboat, and, finally, that there 
was no white man's house this side the river where we could 
stay. We agreed it was necessary to go at once, and, after 
everything was ready, the Bishop was aroused and politely 
asked to take his seat in the carriage. He remonstrated, but, 
as we could not stay, he submitted, and we hurried off. 

On arriving at the Yadkin, it was found to be unfordable, and 
rapidly rising, with every prospect of overflowing its banks be- 
fore night. We soon ascertained, from a group of negroes as- 
sembled to see the river, that the ferryboat had been carried off 
by the flood, that there was no lodging place for us on this side, 
and that we must cross soon or retrace our steps to our late 
miserable stopping place. "There!" said the Bishop, "what 
have you gained in breaking the Sabbath?" We replied that it 
was a work of mercy to get him to a place where he could eat and 
rest, and, besides, we were going to Wilkesboro to have preach- 
ing at night. We made a bed for him with the cushions of the 
carriage and our blankets under the shade, and he was soon fast 
asleep. But how to cross the river was the question. Ascer- 
taining that there was a large canoe, dug out of the body of a 
huge tree, lying a mile or two above, we presently got it floated 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 287 

down and quickly carried all the baggage and equipments across 
with Mrs. Douglass to keep "watch and ward" over them. 
Then the horses swam over by the side of our craft, and finally 
the carriage was placed astride it and carried over. This was a 
difficult and hazardous affair, but it was quickly and safely done. 
As the canoe left the bank and started with its bow up the 
stream to make the landing on the other side, all the carriage 
wheels, impelled by the force of the rapid current, began to re- 
volve, and the spectators, who watched our movements with 
great interset, at once shouted: "Steamboat! steamboat!" 
This aroused our sleeping friend, and he saw with alarm his 
carriage whirling across the torrent. He looked around, and 
horses, baggage, and friends had all gone. Soon, however, he 
was hailed from the other shore and informed that all was safe. 
In a short time he was across and moving rapidly. Wilkesboro 
was soon reached and delightful quarters obtained. The Bishop 
had a clean and comfortable bed, enjoyed a sweet, sound night's 
sleep, and next morning was ready to resume his wearisome 
journey. He and Mr. Douglass were both now in the bounds of 
their former field of labor, and many old acquaintances greeted 
them with a hearty welcome. The latter preached at night to 
a large audience. It was one of his best sermons, clear, evan- 
gelical, eloquent, and powerfully impressive. The Church was 
edified, and penitents came forward for prayer. 

The Bishop and his party left Wilkesboro, N. C., on March 
29, and stayed that night at the village of Jonesville, where he 
found an old friend (Parks) likely to die. Of course he visited 
and prayed with him. The next night was spent in Huntsville, 
and on the thirty-first we came on to Salem, the seat of the fa- 
mous Moravian Female School. The town seemed orderly and 
prosperous, and the whole is owned by a German colony. In 
the afternoon we were conducted by the superintendent to "the 
Sisters' House," where were one hundred and fifteen young la- 
dies, students of the school; thence to the church, and heard the 
grand old German organ; thence to the cemetery, the Potter's 
House, and garden all neatly and beautifully arranged. There 
were no idlers nor drunkards there. Everything moved like 

On April 1, we rode from Salem to Mendenhall's, another old 
friend of both the Bishop and Mr. Douglass. The next day we 
passed over the old Guilford Courthouse battle ground, on which 
a battle was fought between Lord Cornwallis and General 
Greene, March 15, 1781. It was one of the hardest battles of 

288 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

the Revolution, and the loss in killed and wounded was about 
equal on both sides. Lord Cornwallis claimed a victory, of 
which Mr. Fox remarked, when it was reported in the British 
Parliament: "Another such victory will ruin our army in Amer- 
ica." Indeed, this battle was the turning point in that struggle, 
as it frustrated the plan of the British commander, diverted his 
course, and induced him to retreat next day, with our men in 
hot pursuit. And then the skill and courage of a part of our 
army on that occasion awakened stronger confidence on our 
side and resulted in a more vigorous prosecution of the war, so 
that seven months afterwards (on October 19, 1781), Lord Corn- 
wallis surrendered at Yorktown the whole army, and peace and 
independence followed. As we rode over this field, the Bishop 
pointed out where the lines were during the engagement and 
some trees which were said to have lost their tops by the artillery. 
From his familiarity with the topography of the place and 
the incidents of the day, it is more than likely that he was 
in that battle with the Virginia troops, but here, as else- 
where, he became reticent when it was attempted to draw him 
out upon this subject, for, although he was not only in the rebel 
army, but was certainly an officer in the battle of Yorktown, yet 
he always avoided conversation upon war topics with young 
preachers and generally even with his old comrades and friends. 
We had now arrived in a section of the country where Mr. 
Douglass and myself were born and where we intended to rest 
awhile among our relations; so, leaving my company at Menden- 
hall's with a promise to meet again and pursue our journey to- 
gether, the writer departed. Passing through Greensboro 
(where he had the pleasure of meeting again with the families 
of Judge Dick and Dr. R. P. Williamson), he went into Person 
County and spent over a week with his relations there. In the 
meantime the Bishop arrived, and in a few days we left and re- 
sumed -our way. Soon we passed my father's former residence, 
then my grandfather's, places endeared by earliest and fondest 
reminiscences, and on the next day, April 10, crossed the Roan- 
oke River and stayed among the Taylors (Allen, Howell, and 
Edmund) several days. These were Methodists of the old and 
genuine stamp and old friends of McKendree and Asbury. The 
Bishop visited Boydtown, subsequently the seat of Randolph- 
Macon College, which has lately been transferred to Ashland, to 
prove an honor and a blessing to the State and the Church. 

On April 12, we went thirty-five miles, to the elegant and hos- 
pitable residence of Brother Adams. In crossing^the Meherrin 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 289 

River, we found it very high and rising rapidly, the long bridge 
without banisters, one side considerably lower than the other, 
and a torrent of water rushing over more than half of the bridge. 
The Bishop was startled and thought it hazardous to attempt 
to drive over; but, giving him the reins, I alighted, coaxed the 
frightened horses upon the bridge, and, wading, led them safely 
over. In a brief time afterwards the entire bridge was covered 
with the swollen stream, and, I believe, washed away. 

As we proceeded by easy stages through Virginia, it was very 
impressive to hear the Bishop call the names and give the his- 
tory of almost every family whose residence we passed. He 
would frequently say: "Robert, I must stop awhile here; I 
knew the old folks and must look after the children." Some- 
times the interviews were deeply affecting. They would em- 
brace him and once or twice an old, gray-headed sister would, 
almost involuntarily, try to kiss him. Tears, smiles, and prayers 
followed, and after prayer we would hurry away. 

In the afternoon of April 13, we drove to Robert C. Boothe's 
and tarried there until next morning. It was a fine specimen of a 
Virginia Methodist family, and the Bishop was truly at home. 
Thence we went to Petersburg, where he was admitted on trial 
in 1787. Brother Archer's was his pleasant lodging place, as it 
had often been before. The stationed preacher, G. W. Charlton, 
was considered a very promising young preacher. On Sunday, 
at eleven o'clock, the Bishop preached to a large audience of 
old acquaintances and their children, many of whom he had 
baptized in their infancy. The sermon over, they crowded 
around him, fervently welcoming him back again in his old age 
and feebleness. After Sunday, he proceeded to Richmond, and 
remained there until the nineteenth. He preached, on Sunday, 
at Shochoe Hill, one of his characteristic sermons to a very large, 
attentive, and weeping audience. 

From Richmond we passed on to Alexandria, staying a night 
at Brother Ware's, another at Fredericksburg, and the third at 
Dumfries. Passing in sight of Mount Vernon, the conversation 
naturally turned to General Washington, whom he greatly ad- 
mired and loved. We stopped to lunch at the old, forsaken 
parish church, and, driving out a flock of goats, entered it. The 
usual inscriptions (the Ten Commandments, Creed, and Lord's 
Prayer) were over the pulpit, and upon a pew was the name of 
"George Washington," in gilt letters, and next to it "Robert 
Treat Paine." It seemed a pity that such a house should be 
given to the goats. The residence of Brother Hoffman furnished 

290 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

the Bishop a kind and comfortable home in Alexandria for a day 
or two. Here I formed the acquaintance of that eloquent and 
good minister, William Ryland, and was deeply impressed with 
his piety and talents. 

Several days were spent at Brother Foxhall's, in Georgetown, 
and at the house of Judge McLean, the Postmaster General. 
Mr. Monroe was then in the last term of his presidency, and J. 
C. Calhoun was Secretary of War, while Thomas L. McKinney 
was in the Indian Department. Several official letters now be- 
fore the writer, addressed to the Bishop, attest the deep interest 
felt by these officers of the general government in the civiliza- 
tion and Christianization of the Indians, one of them, dated 
April 26, informing the Bishop that "an additional allowance 
of $300 had been agreed on in favor of the school of Upper San- 
dusky." Another letter from Mr. Calhoun, addressed to Gen- 
eral Crowell, agent for the Creek Indians, says: "The President 
takes a deep interest in the success of every effort the object of 
which is to improve the condition of the Indians, and desires 
that every aid should be furnished by the Indian agents in ad- 
vancing so important an object," etc. While these communi- 
cations evince the estimate placed by the President and Mr. 
Calhoun upon the Indian Missions, they also show their high 
regard for the venerable Bishop, to whom, in a great degree, 
they attributed the establishment and success of these missions 
and through whose influence these allowances were made. 

We had the pleasure of seeing our mutual friend, Dr. Bascom, 
here. Through Mr. Clay he had been, unexpectedly to himself, 
elected a chaplain to Congress, and, as it was in session, he was 
here in his official character. Unfortunately, his first sermon, 
although eloquent and able, was too long to suit the taste of his 
.audience, who preferred short sermons and long dinners; so that, 
while the most intellectual and piously disposed part were de- 
lighted with his preaching, a good many were disinclined to 
hear him again. On visiting him, he was found in bed, suffering 
from a very painful affection. He was, however, devoting every 
-hour which he could employ to the study of the Hebrew lan- 
guage, under the tuition of an able Hebraist. 

On April 28 we reached Baltimore, and were domiciled in the 
family of William Wilkins, Esq. It was a delightful family. In 
view of the Bishop's need of medical attention, his physician 
and devoted friend, Dr. Samuel Baker, claimed and took him 
to his house. Here I surrendered my precious charge, after 
nearly two months' constant intercourse, on a tour of more than 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 291 

a thousand miles of slow and toilsome travel. But they were 
months of inestimable value to me. From many days' conver- 
sation with that wise and holy man, I learned and enjoyed much. 
The origin, nature, and proper administration of Methodism; 
the character and labors of its early ministers; the importance 
of adhering closely to all its essential peculiarities; the duties 
of its officers, and especially of its pastors, and the indispensa- 
bleness of zeal, holiness, and promptness were topics upon 
which he delighted to dwell. And now, after the lapse of forty- 
five years, I must avow that my sentiments upon these subjects 
are still McKendreean, and, I presume, will remain so through 
the remainder of my life. Most devoutly do I thank God for 
having in his providence given me the inestimable privilege of 
so intimate an association with a man so wise and pure. 


General Conference of 1824 Messrs. Reece and Hannah Committees 
Petitions Report on episcopacy Winans on the report and the con- 
stitution "The constitutional test" Bishops' veto Amendment to 
the constitution proposed by the bishops and others J. Soule's views 
Question carried The suspended resolutions question Left as unfin- 
ished business Qourum broken Bishop Roberts and Freeborn Gar- 
rettson Soule and Hedding elected bishops Ordained Sketches 
Bishop McKendree's address He is gratified. 

ON Saturday, May 1, 1824, the delegated General Confer- 
ence began its fourth quadrennial session in Baltimore, Bishops 
McKendree, Roberts, and George being present. The number 
of delegates from each Conference was as follows: From New 
York, 16; New England, 14; Genesee, 16; Philadelphia, 13; 
Baltimore 14; Ohio, 13; Kentucky, 11; Missouri, 5; Tennessee, 
9; Mississippi, 3; South Carolina, 11; Virginia, 9; in all, 134. 
After the usual opening exercises, Bishop McKendree in the 
chair, Thomas L. Douglass was made Secretary pro tern.; and 
committees on "public worship" and to draw up "rules" were 
appointed, and the Conference adjourned until Monday. At 
the next session the body organized by electing John Emory 
Secretary. The Rev. Richard Reece, as messenger, and the Rev. 
John Hannah, his companion, from the Wesleyan Methodists of 
England, were then introduced to the General Conference and 
delivered impressive addresses. Committees on episcopacy, 
boundaries, itinerancy, local preachers, the Book Concern, 
missions, churches and parsonages, people of color, revisal, 
and education were appointed. A special committee was ap- 
pointed on Canada affairs. Two more days were consumed 
in arranging business and adopting rules. To the writer, the 
youngest member of the body, it was an imposing spectacle. 
Bishop McKendree observed the action of the body with great 
solicitude. In a few days petitions and addresses began to pour 
in, declaring that "the people were the source of legislative 
authority;" "the power of the bishops to be found nowhere 
else but in popes;" "we have no constitution;" "the restrictive 
parts of the Discipline not binding on succeeding General 
Conferences after 1808, nor upon the laity, as they were made 
by a legislative body, without the design or authority to adopt 
a constitution;" "let the Church try and expel her own mem- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 293 

bers;" "laity to have an equal representation," etc. Several 
remonstrances were made against presiding elders as needless, 
and doing "a work of supererogation," etc. And among 
others, on the same topic, one asking that "no slaveholder 
shall be a member of the Church. " Such were the memorials 
from cities, towns, and country; from quarterly meetings, 
Sunday schools, and other official bodies, as well as unofficial 
petitioners by scores and hundreds of subscribers. Ten or more 
of them were from the West or South. It was astounding to 
hear such attacks upon the very fundamental principles of our 
economy. Could they find advocates in a Methodist General 

Of course the reports of the various committees to whom 
these papers were referred brought up all these topics for dis- 
cussion. That upon episcopacy was about the first which was 

1. Approving the conduct and character of the bishops. 

2. Bishop McKendree to continue in his present relation 
i.e., without regular work. 

3. That it is necessary to strengthen the episcopacy by the 
election of two bishops. 

4. The bishops, if necessary, to lay off episcopal departments. 

Attempts were made to modify each of these items of the re- 
port except the second, but the principal opposition was made 
to the last two, some contending we had as many bishops as was 
needed. The motion to recommend was lost by a vote of 54 to 
60. The fourth item was discussed at considerable length. It 
was contended that the General Conference had authority to 
lay off the work in departments temporarily; some wanted the 
bishops' work laid off for four years. William Winans said that 
on this question there are three different opinions; that his own 
was that the bishops have the prerogative to divide their work for 
their own convenience and the good of the Church; and, as one 
of the restrictions upon this delegated body is that "they shall 
not destroy the plan of our itinerant general superintendency;" 
and, inasmuch as the exercise of the authority by the delegated 
body in limiting and thus localizing the bishops violates the plan 
of our itinerant general superintendency, it is, and must be, a 
violation of the constitution of the Church. He said it was ab- 
surd to deny that we have a Church constitution. By what 
authority do members occupy their seats here as delegates or the 
bishop his chair but by the constitution? These restrictive ar- 
ticles, adopted by a convention of the whole body of ministers 

294 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

in 1808, are as truly a constitution to the Church (and to this 
body) and for the expressed purpose of restricting this delegated 
body as the Constitution of the United States is to this nation. 
In short, if these articles do not constitute a part of the organic 
law of the Church, in all its departments, we have no constitu- 
tion, and this body is lawless. This speech was thrilling. The 
report was adopted, leaving it discretionary with the bishops to 
divide their work temporarily. 

Friday, May 20, another question of importance came up, 
called "the constitutional test," the object of which was to pre- 
vent hasty action, violative of the constitution, by giving the 
bishops a qualified veto, with an ultimate reference of the ques- 
tion to the Annual Conferences. It involved constitutional 
questions only. The bishops, anticipating some action of the 
kind, had agreed to unite, and, if desired, present to the Con- 
ference the following amendment to the sixth Article of the 
"Limitations and Restrictions, "adopted by the General Confer- 
ence in 1808, signed by their own hands, and by two others, to wit : 

Resolved by the delegates of the Annual Conferences in General Conference 
assembled, That it be recommended, and is hereby recommended to the 
several Annual Conferences, to adopt the following Article as a provision, 
to be annexed to the sixth Article of the Limitations and Restrictions, 
adopted by the General Conference in 1808, to wit: "Provided also, That 
whenever the delegated General Conference shall pass any rule or rules 
which, in the judgment of the bishops, or a majority of them, are contrary 
to, or an infringment upon, the above Limitations and Restrictions, or 
any one of them, such rule or rules being returned to the Conference with- 
in three days after their passage, together with the objections of the bish- 
ops in writing, the Conference shall reconsider such rule or rules; and if 
upon reconsideration they shall pass by a majority of two-thirds of the 
members present, they shall be considered as rules and go into immediate 
effect; but in case a less majority shall differ from the opinion of the bish- 
ops, and they continue to sustain their objections, the rule or rules ob- 
jected to shall be laid before the Annual Conferences, in which case the 
decision of all the members of the Annual Conferences present when the 
vote shall be taken, shall be final. In taking the vote in all such cases, 
in the Annual Conferences, the secretary shall give a certificate of the 
number of votes taken in the affirmative and negative, and such certifi- 
cates shall be forwarded to the Book Agent in New York, who, with one 
or more of the bishops who may be present, shall be a committe to canvas 
the votes and certify the result." 

We recommend the adoption of the above resolution. 


Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Whether the subject was brought into Conference by thepres- ? 
entation of this document or by another series of resolutions- 
the writer cannot say, but the discussion of the subject was 
upon substantially a similar if not an identical presentation Of 
the question. 

A motion to lay on the table was lost by 61 to 65. 

J. Soule said: "The General Conference is not the proper 
judge of the constitutionality of its own acts. The course of the 
last General Conference in the case of the suspended resolutions 
shows it thought thus. If the General Conference be the sole 
judge in such questions, then there are no bounds to its power. 
The General Conferences held and exercised unlimited power 
until 1812, because they met en masse and not by virtue of their 
election or delegation. This was felt to be a dangerous 
state of things and unfair to the more distant portions of 
the work. And one great controlling motive in introducing 
the representative principle was to lessen the danger of sudden 
and violent changes in the fundamental polity of the Church by 
establishing a delegated legislative body under restrictions, 
thus insuring stability to the organic institutions and equality 
in representation. It matters not by what name these restric- 
tive rules may be called, the design and effect were to take the 
questions enumerated from under the control of the delegated 
Conference, except in the way and manner specified." He 
called it a constitution. 

L. McCombs and James Smith opposed the resolution at con- 
siderable length, and W. Winans replied in one of the strongest, 
most analytical, and effective speeches ever delivered on the 
floor of the General Conference. The question was carried by 
a vote of 64 to 58. 

A heavy load was lifted from the heart of the senior bishop. 
His face put on a subdued smile, and he breathed freer. But 
the subject which had in some form or other agitated the body 
since. 1808, and which had, in 1820, culminated in the adoption 
of certain resolutions, which were subsequently reconsidered 
and suspended, and hence were known as the "Suspended Res- 
olutions/' was yet to come up. No questions had so long and 
so deeply disturbed the entire Church as those involved in these 
resolutions. Their purpose was to diminish the power of the ' 
bishops, by the election of the presiding elders, and investing 
them with the stationing prerogative. In 1820, it was carried.; 
as a compromise, or peace measure, many voting for it as such 
who really disapproved it. But no sooner was this done than 

296 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

the real and baneful tendency of the measure began to be per- 
ceived, as already stated in a preceding chapter, and so general 
was this conviction that it was suspended until 1824. The great 
and avowed cause of opposition to it was that it was an infringe- 
ment on the constitutional authority of the episcopacy, who 
nevertheless agreed to submit it to the several Annual Confer- 
ences, and, if they should sanction it, to consider it passed. It 
appeared that Bishop McKendree had done this at the Confer- 
ences he had attended, and probably the other bishops had done 
so too; but some Conferences had voted against it and some for 
it, while several had failed or refused to vote on it at all. It was 
evidently against the wish of a majority of the members of the 
Annual Conferences. A motion was made on May 24, declaring 
the suspended resolutions null and void. Almost the entire day 
was spent in discussing the matter, and upon taking the vote, 
it stood 63 for and 61 against the motion. But as there was a 
complaint that several Conferences had not voted, whose votes, if 
in the affirmative, might carry the question, there was a dispo- 
sition among the majority to hold the decision in abeyance un- 
til these Conferences might have another chance to vote, and if 
there then should be a majority in favor of these resolutions, 
they should be considered as adopted. To this it was replied, 
The principle is now lost, and the resolutions themselves are not 
of so much importance. 

On May 28, Lewis Myers moved "to take up the motion on 
the subject of the suspended resolutions." Dr. Capers said there 
was a division of sentiment on these resolutions. "A majority 
of the members of the Annual Conferences, as well as of the Con- 
ferences themselves, have said they are unconstitutional. There 
is a division of sentiment among the episcopacy, and if things 
are left as they are, will not the bishops be delicately situated? 
May it not produce confusion in the administration? For surely 
they will not give practical effect to the measure, after what 
had transpired." 

Dr. Winans wished the resolutions to be considered "unfin- 
ished business." 

It was finally moved by the writer, and seconded by Dr. 
Capers, that "the suspended resolutions, making the presiding 
elders elective, etc., be considered as unfinished business, and 
they shall not be inserted in the new edition of the Disci- 
pline or go into operation before the next General Conference." 

In putting the question to vote (Bishop Roberts in the chair) 
the quorum was broken twice; but, under the remonstrances of 

Life and^Times of Bishop McKendree 297 

the venerable Freeborn Garrettson and the chairman, at last 
it was carried, and the Conference soon after adjourned sine die. 

After the decision that the resolutions so often referred to 
were null and void, the reason for the refusal of Joshua Soule to 
submit to consecration being thus removed, it was greatly de- 
sired by his friends to have him reflected to the episcopacy; and 
as two were to be inducted into office, Joshua Soule and Elijah 
Hedding were elected bishops. And on May 27, after a ser- 
mon by Bishop George, they were solemnly ordained as super- 
intendents of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United 
States of America. These two men were in many respects 
eminently qualified for the high positions assigned them and 
proved themselves worthy and useful shepherds of the Church. 1 

When it was evident that the Conference was approaching 
its close, the senior Bishop determined to carry out his meditated 
purpose of giving to its members a brief address. Mr. John 
Summerfield, the renowned and justly popular Anglo-Irish 
preacher (between whom and the Bishop there existed the strong- 
est feelings of attachment), was requested to join the writer 
and take down the address in shorthand. We accordingly pre- 
pared ourselves and recorded every word he uttered as it fell 

Joshua Soule was a native of Maine, born in Bristol, Hancock County, 
1781. He entered the itinerancy in 1798, having been converted the year 
previous. He died in Nashville, Tenn., March 6, 1867. His long ministe- 
rial career was crowded with labor and eventful scenes. He enjoyed the 
esteem of Bishops Asbury and McKendree, and deserved it. When shall 
we have his biography? It is to be regretted that in the very valuable and 
usually fair and liberal "History of the Methodist Episcopal Church," by 
Dr. Stevens, writen since the Bishop's death, the author, in sketching his 
character, could find so little, comparatively, to say about him, and of 
that little so much that is depreciating. 

Elijah Hedding was born in the country of Dutchess, N. Y,, June 7, 1780; 
was converted December 27, 1798; admitted on trial in 1801; elected bish- 
op in 1824; and died April 9, 1852. He had been a faithful and efficient 
laborer in the Northern and Eastern section of the work and was highly 
respected for his purity of character, his amiability, and his talents. He 
was a large and venerable looking man, and lived and died with a spotless 
reputation. During the General Conference of 1824, the writer heard him 
preach in Light Street Church, Baltimore, on " God is love." He illustrated 
the great truth in the text as exhibited in creation, providence, and grace. 
It was clearly and fitly spoken, but seemed not to make a very strong im- 
pression. In his episcopal duties he was popular and much revered for his 
wisdom, piety, and fidelity. His labors were not extended to the South- 
west. Dr. D. W. Clark has given us an excellent biography of him. 

298 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

from his lips, and, after comparing our notes and making out 
a copy of his address, handed it to him. It was a striking and 
touching scenic presentation. There he stood before the as- 
sembled representatives of the Church, with every one of whom 
he was acquainted, and with some of whom he had been a fel- 
low soldier on many a moral battle field for about forty years, 
whose thin hairs were white as his and whose bodies, like his, 
were wasted and worn with unceasing toil and care. The mo- 
ment he arose, noise and motion ceased in the crowded house. 
He paused awhile, and, then in a low and hesitating voice, began. 
After saying that he would avail himself of the present oppor- 
tunity to state his views upon a subject on which some brethren 
had misunderstood him, the following were his words: 

At the last General Conference, unexpected circumstances led to a de- 
velopment of our situation in certain matters which was of a serious and 
painful nature after which difficulties were to rise out of this which af- 
fected the peace and harmony of the Church. Soon after, I understood 
that brethren supposed me to have said that I considered it my right and 
prerogative to negative the laws of the General Conference. This surprised 
me, for I had disavowed this principle above thirty years ago and had 
never changed my sentiments, but have disavowed it at all seasonable 
opportunities, and do still. This I suppose quite sufficient to satisfy those 
who know me; and yet I perceived the other day, from the statement of a 
brother in this Conference, that this sentiment still lives and was again 
attributed to me. If I had at any time, in the multiplicity of cares and of 
business, suffered anything to escape me which by possibility could be con- 
strued to have this meaning, I should still have thought that my disavowal, 
so frequently made public among you, would have been sufficient to guard 
against such a construction. I therefore add that in my estimation no con- 
struction of this kind can be legitimately drawn from anything I may have 
said. After Conference, I took a course in this business which has been ob- 
jected to by many. I have no hesitation in saying that the act was not with- 
in the limits of our restricted powers; but I was induced to do it from a pre- 
cedent which had been once set by that venerable man, Bishop Asbury , who 
may perhaps be considered as the father of the American connection. Soon 
after I was ordained a bishop, an objection was made against an act of the 
administration, and the objection was on constitutional principles. As- 
bury deplored that our Discipline made no provision for adjusting such a 
controversy, and determined to lay it before the Annual Conferences. The 
first that met was the Baltimore Conference. After it had been submitted 
to them he carried it forward to the Philadelphia, New York, New Eng- 
land, and Genesee Conferences, in each of which it was acted on, and the 
difficulties were adjusted. This was the plan on which I acted; unappre- 
hensive of any evil tendency, I laid this matter before the Annual Confer- 
ences. Look now at its tendency. I viewed it on constitutional principles, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 299 

and my reasonings are still in existence. I thought from the first, and I do 
still think, that the Annual Conferences have the power of determining the 
question ; and if they had said, "We think them constitutional" i. e., the 
uspended resolutions I was bound to submit. However, as they did not, 
I simply advised them to recommend it to the General Conference. In all 
this I saw no evil tendency whatever. 

At the commencement of the present General Conference, your bishops 
consulted together to devise some way to harmonize the brethren and the 
connection at large. It is true they have had their difficulties, and I would 
ask if any three men could unite their views on every subject for eight, or 
even four years? Yet, after all, when they came togather, they were anx- 
ious to agree upon some plan which would harmonize the body. They 
thought they saw a plan open, and they entered in. The plan was to in- 
vite the brethren on both sides to vote a peace measure which should meet 
the wishes of all. In order to guard against a recurrence of like disagree- 
ments, they agreed to recommend to the General Conference a constitu- 
tional test which should forever settle these things. I was pleased with an 
adjustment which is calculated to heal the past by the peace measure pro- 
posed and to guard against a recurrence by the constitutional test. 

Having concluded this topic, he spoke of the importance of 
the present time in the history of our Church, the extension of 
the work, and the increase in the number of the Conferences; 
thence deduced and maintained the necessity of an efficient 
superintendency and the importance of leading on the thousands 
of our Israel to inward and outward holiness and of training up 
the hundreds of thousands of the rising generation. He enlarged 
on the necessity of united councils and exertions to carry on 
this great work, and expressed his anxiety to see his brethren go 
hence to their work in perfect harmony. He rejoiced to know 
the differences of opinion would produce no division in the Con- 
ference. He said the office of a bishop among us is not an en- 
viable station; that in truth it is an accumulation of toil, labor, 
and privation superadded to the "care of all the Churches;" and 
that anyone who would desire the office of a bishop "as a good 
thing" for any other motive than to increase the general hap- 
piness of man and the glory of God thereby had not counted the 
cost. He briefly adverted to his age and infirmities and the prob- 
ability that he would not live to meet them four years hence. 
He then proceeded to advert to the labor and anxiety they had 
endured through the long session about to close and congratu- 
lated them upon the measures adopted and the degree of har- 
mony and brotherly respect which had generally prevailed. 
He exhorted them to love the Church and each other, to avoid 
strife, to cultivate deep personal piety and an unwavering de- 

300 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

votion to the high ends of their holy vocation. Finally, after 
expressing a joyful hope of renewing in heaven the friendship 
and sanctified affection begun on earth, he invoked the blessing 
of God upon them all, and in tremulous tones, his cheeks mois- 
tened with tears, bade them, as he supposed, a long farewell. 
The whole audience continued awhile in profound silence, in- 
terrupted only by partially suppressed emotions. He concluded 
his address with the apostolic benediction, and retired. 

Various other measures were adopted by this Conference, 
which, upon the whole, was one of the most important sessions 
of the body ever held in the United States. Bishop McKendree 
was especially gratified. His well-known opinions upon several 
vital issues had been sustained, his course fully vindicated, an 
untrammeled episcopacy and primitive itinerancy perpetuated, 
and two able and trustworthy colleagues had been added to the 
aged but excellent college of bishops. The Church, especially 
in the South and West, was delighted at what was regarded, 
and has proved to be, virtually a peaceable disposal of harassing 
and dangerous attempts at innovations, and the preachers felt 
renewed confidence in the recuperative energy and perpetuity 
of their beloved Alma Mater. 

Thus closed the memorable General Conference of 1824. 1 

1 There are several discrepancies between the notes made by the writer 
at the time and Dr. Bang's valuable "History" viz.: He says, on page 277 
of Vol. Ill, the election of the two bishops occurred on the twenty-sixth, and 
their consecration on the twenty-seventh. My notes, made at the time, 
say the election was on the twenty-eighth, and the consecration on the 
twenty-ninth of May. Again, he says Bishop McKendree preached the 
ordination sermon; my record says Bishop George preached it. On the 
first balloting, William Beauchamp was next to Soule, Hedding next, and 
Emory last. Emory withdrew has name on the third balloting, and Hed- 
ding was elected by a small majority. 


The bishops divide the work for four years Bishop McKendree starts on 
a tour of three thousand miles His letter to Dr. Sargent His route 
from Baltimore to the Wyandotte Mission Bishop Soule and family 
Jacob Crist Finley meets him at Columbus, Ohio Visits and preaches 
to the Indians Weary Bear skin bed on the ground Gets to Ken- 
tucky Conference at Versailles Attends the Missouri Conference Re- 
turns to Tennessee very feeble His letter to Bishops Roberts and Soule, 
resigning the active duties of the superintendency Resumes his travels 
in the spring of 1825 B. T. Crouch's letter Mr. Summerfield. 

IMMEDIATELY after the close of the General Conference of 
1824, the bishops agreed to a division of the work among them- 
selves for the ensuing four years, conformably to the views ex- 
pressed by that body. For the first two years Bishops Roberts 
and Soule were to attend the Western and Southern Conferences 
and Bishops George and Hedding the Eastern and Northern, 
and to exchange their fields of labor for the ensuing two years, 
thus enabling each of them to attend every Conference before 
the next General Conference. 

After spending a few days in Baltimore, and at the residence 
of his long-tried and devoted friend, Dr. Henry Wilkins, then 
living in the vicinity of the city, and finding his health and 
strength a little improved, he resumed his travels, intending, if 
possible, to visit the Indian missions and the Northwestern and 
Southern Conferences, a distance of more then three thousand 

From Sharpsburg, Pa., he wrote to Dr. Thomas Sargent, Pres- 
ident of the Philadelphia Missionary Society, in reply to a note 
just received from him, and, after several suggestions as to the 
application of missionary funds to the various Indian missions, 
and especially in aid of New Orleans, he proceeds to say: 

Our Church politics is strangely embarrassing. The course I took rela- 
tive to the suspended resolutions was not to defeat them, but to bring, 
them into operation conformably to the constitution, and thereby confirm 
the " peace measure " and harmonize the preachers. To this the preachers 
who prefer the old system are willing to submit for the sake of peace. On 
the commencement of the late General Conference, the bishops took the 
subject into consideration and unanimously agreed to recommend the in- 
troduction of the suspended resolutions so soon as they should be recom- 
mended by those Annual Conferences which had not already authorized 
the change. This the old side, the majority, I understand, are willing to do. 

302 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

But this our reformers refused to do. The majority, still desirous of an 
amicable adjustment of differences, would not destroy the resolutions, but 
perpetuated their suspension. This is my view of the matter. Hence this 
change in our government, which was dictated by the reformers, is de- 
feated by the reformers. It is said by authority to be relied on that noth- 
ing short of investing the Annual Conferences with authority to constitute 
the presiding elders, independently of the bishops, and to make the pre- 
siding elders thus appointed a committee to station the preachers, in which 
the bishop shall have only the casting vote, will satisfy the Northern breth- 
. ren. This change would, in my estimation, effectually "destroy our itiner- 
ant general superintendency"; and I am deliberately of the opinion that 
an effective general superintendency is as necessary to the preservation of 
our itinerancy and the harmony of the Annual Conferences as is the Gen- 
eral Conferencef-ftself. Both one and the other rise out of the division of 
our work into so many Annual Conferences, which are equal in power and 
independent of each other. Could all our preachers meet in one Annual 
Conference, the itinerant plan might be preserved in America without 
either a general superintendency or a general Conference, as it is in Eng- 
land. I expect to be at the Ohio Conference, at Zanesville, in September, 
when I hope to receive a letter from you." 

The following extract from his Diary will show the route he 
took from the General Conference: 

"At the Baltimore Conference, Jacob B. Crist was appointed 
to travel with me. I went to the Philadelphia Conference, and 
at its close returned to Baltimore. From there we went, in 
company with Bishop Soule and his family, as they were moving 
to the State of Ohio. On Sabbath we both preachedat Hagers- 
town. Thence we went to Sharpsburg and Uniontown, Pa. 
Bishop Soule and family go on, and we stopped. Preached at 
Brownsville, Washington, Wheeling, Barnesville, and Zanes- 
ville, and spent the Sabbath at New Lancaster. On Monday 
we reached Columbus, where Brother Finley was waiting for me, 
and the next day we set out for the Wyandotte Mission. The 
weather was very hot, and one of my horses having been lamed 
at Lancaster, I had undertaken to go on horseback. I suffered 
considerably and was greatly fatigued, but arrived safely at the 
mission about August 7. Preached to the Indians on Sunday, 
spent several days visiting the Indian families, and rode sixty 
miles in two days, to Urbana. I had to lie down and rest, in a 
house if we could find one, if not, a bear skin on the ground made 
a very good bed. When musquitoes were plenty, we would 
strike fire, raise a smoke, and rest comfortably. From Urbana 
we attended the Ohio Conference at Zanesville. Thence we 
visited Springfield, Xenia, Ridgewell, Hillsboro, Chillicothe, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 303 

Lebanon, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Lexington, Ky., on our way 
to the Kentucky Conference at Versailles, October 11, 1824. 
Besides preaching in the towns and societies in the country, we 
attended quarterly meetings and camp meetings, rendering 
such services as we were able." 

It has been already stated that he attended, with Bishops 
Soule and Roberts, the Missouri Conference, which succeeded 
the Kentucky. His route was through Louisville, crossing the 
Ohio, through Indiana to Vincennes, through Illinois to Pads- 
fields, attending the Missouri Conference in November, return- 
ing through Southern Illinois into Kentucky, visiting Hop- 
kinsville and Russellville, and passing into Tennessee. During 
all this long journey he was so feeble as to need assistance to get 
in or out of the carriage. The roads were very bad, the streams 
high, frequently the horses were near swimming, and once, in 
crossing a deep and dangerous stream on a cold day, the water 
came over the backs of the horses and wet the Bishop above his 
knees. His clothes were soon frozen, and in this condition he 
had to ride four miles to reach a house. 

The bishops were greatly delighted at the change which had 
resulted from the labors of the missionaries among the Wyan- 
dottes, both in the temporal and spiritual condition of this peo- 
ple. Their religion had consisted of paganism and some of the 
ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church. They were really 
pagans, although baptized by the priests and claimed by them 
as Christians. They kept up their heathen worship their 
feasts, songs, and dances; and so strong was their belief in witch- 
craft, that numbers had been put to death as witches under this 
belief. Drunkenness, poverty, nakedness, and misery abounded. 
The chase was their chief, if not their only resource, for a living. 
But now a large majority had renounced their old faith and 
practices. Many had joined our Church and were strictly at- 
tentive to the means of grace. The tomahawk and the scalping 
knife, the rifle and the bow, had been substituted by the ax, the 
plow, and the hoe. The habits of Christian, social, and domes- 
tic life prevailed. At the manual labor mission school a fine 
farm was in full operation, supplying abundantly the wants of 
the mission family and school with corn, wheat, oats, rye, flax, 
and a great variety and profusion of vegetables. The Indians 
were imitating this model establishment. On the Sabbath both 
of the bishops preached to a large assembly through the inter- 
preter. By appointment, they met a number of the leaders of 
the Nation the chiefs and the moderator of the national coun- 

304 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

cil. Bishop McKendree, after addressing them, invited them 
to inform him of their views in relation to the mission and the 
general interests of the Nation. Menoncue, Punch, Gray Eyes, 
Peacock, Between-the-Logs, Driver, Washington, and Big Tree 
replied. They gratefully adverted to the change in the creed, 
manners, morals, and condition which had resulted from the 
mission, and earnestly asked that it might be continued. " Bish- 
op McKendree/' says Bishop Soule, "continued visiting from 
house to house, attended by an interpreter," explaining experi- 
mental religion and enforcing its practical precepts. On Au- 
gust 14 they left, impressed and delighted with the visit. Bish- 
op Soule, who had never before been among the Indians, was 
especially surprised and pleased; and both of them, through 
the remainder of their lives, often adverted to the scene, 
which seemed to linger in their memories like the echo of an 
enchanting song heard "long time ago." It awakened a deeper 
sympathy for "the poor Indian." 

On their route from the Missouri to the Tennessee Confer- 
ence, to be held at Columbia, they arrived on November 21 at 
the Rev. Nathanael Moore's, the brother-in-law of Bishop Mc- 
Kendree, and found his sister, Mrs. Frances Moore, in a very 
feeble state of health from consumption. Having attended the 
Tennessee Conference and returned to the house of his brother- 
in-law, he yielded to the advice of friends and the entreaties of 
his sisters and relations not to venture farther during the winter. 
Indeed, his health was very infirm, and the succeeding Confer- 
ences were likely to be so well supplied with episcopal super- 
vision that it was alike unreasonable and unnecessary for him to 
try to go. Bishop Soule went on his way to the Mississippi Con- 
ference, and Bishop McKendree now fully devoted himself to 
instruct and soothe his dying sister. 

Having already alluded to this subject, suffice it to say that 
after a protracted and terrible scene of physical suffering and 
occasionally of mental depression, she became exceedingly 
happy some weeks before her departure and died while her be- 
loved brother was by her bedside soothing and encouraging her 
to trust all to Jesus. Her last struggle was triumphant; her last 
word was "Glory!" This occurred January 3, 1825. The re- 
mainder of the winter of 1824-5 the Bishop continued in Ten- 
nessee, visiting among his old acquaintances and preaching as 
he had ability. Besides his brother-in-law's, the Rev. N. 
Moore's, and his brother's, Dr. James McKendree's, his prin- 

lAje and Times of Bishop McKendree 305 

cipal resting places were Joseph T. Elliston's and H. R. W. 
Hill's, Nashville, and T. L. Douglass's, near Franklin, Tenn. 

The excessive fatigue and exposure he had undergone in his 
late tour, and his consequent debility and suffering, deeply im- 
pressed him with the conviction of his inability to perform ef- 
fectively the active labors of an itinerant general superintend- 
ent; and while laboring under the depression produced by this 
conviction, the following letter was addressed to Bishops Rob- 
erts and Soule, in which he proposed to retire from the duties 
and responsibilities of the superintendency, with suggestions as 
to certain important items which he commends to their special 
attention; and although several preceding General Conferences 
had authorized him to do so, and notwithstanding this formal 
announcement of his purpose, yet so soon as his health and 
strength were a little recruited by rest and kind nursing, he was 
again on the wing around the continent striving to build up the 
Church and save souls from death. 

NASHVILLE, December 12, 1824. 

Much Respected Brethren: Two considerations incline me to retire more 
effectually from the important duties and high responsibilities of the epis- 
copal charge: 

1. My infirmities are such that I can neither bear the fatigue of travel- 
ing from Conference to Conference nor perform the duties when present. 

2. The episcopal duties can be discharged as well without me; yet I am 
as much as ever disposed, whether present or absent, to render all the as r 
sistance in my power. 

Having made these remarks, suffer me to suggest a few things for your 
consideration, which have occurred to me as points deserving serious at- 

The importance and utility of our missionary operations are sufficiently 
demonstrated by the success with which they have been attended. To 
carry the design into complete effect, much depends, as I conceive, upon 
the bishops. By them the attention of the last General Conference was 
invited to the establishment of a mission at Liberia, with an eye of thus 
opening the way for the gospel among the native Africans. 

You doubtless recollect that the General Conference approved the de- 
sign and authorized the bishop to send out a missionary or missionaries 
immediately, but as yet nothing has been done. 

Can it be that a suitable man cannot be found among all our ministers? 
or is the failure attributable to us? Dear brethren, let us strive to effect 
this grand object. The Lord will surely smile upon the undertaking. 

That some of our missionaries are not sufficiently attentive to the in- 
struction of the Indians is evident to some of us. Should we not inquire 
not only whether they are faithful in preaching and meeting the classes, 
but also whether they visit them with a view to instruct and incite them 

306 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

to agriculture and housewifery? a very important part of their duty. It 
is scarcely necessary to caution our missionaries against entering into any 
questions involving civil politics. 

Can you not devise some means by which our people and friends can be 
more effectually roused to the importance of sustaining and enlarging our 
field of missionary operations? Would it not be well to converse freely 
with the presiding elders on the subject and strive to excite them to use 
their best efforts within their respective limits to raise societies and collect 
funds? or would it answer better to appoint suitable persons to travel and 
raise funds exclusively for this object? 

One thought more and I will conclude. What has been intimated rel- 
ative to the laxity of the preachers in missionary operations may apply in 
some degree to the " duties of a preacher," " the building of churches," " the 
doctrine of holiness," and conformity to the world. 

Remember, dear brethren, that it is our duty as general superintendents 
"to oversee the spiritual and temporal business of the Church," and we are 
holden jointly responsible for the administration. Let us, therefore, dis- 
charge our duties faithfully; then shall we not be ashanied at our approach- 
ing examination, but be able to render up an account to the General Con- 
ference with joy and not with grief. 

Yours affectionately, W. MCKENDREE. 

During the summer of 1825 he attended several quarterly 
and camp meetings and preached to the edification of thousands. 
In the latter part of the summer he passed into Kentucky. The 
following letter to the writer from the Rev. B. T. Crouch, Sr., 
shows his habits on such occasions. Alas! the worthy author, 
and recently his excellent widow, and his noble son and name- 
sake, as well as the Bishop, have since all gone to the grave. 

In the autum of 1824, my health being very poor, my brethren persuad- 
ed me to take a superannuated relation; but not being disposed to rest, my 
labors were not abated, and the presiding elder of the district, having to be 
absent several weeks on business, employed me to attend a whole round of 
his quarterly meetings in his stead. I think in June, 1825, at one of those 
meetings, Bishop McKendree came up, greatly to our surprise and joy. 
He was on a pastorial tour eastward and northward, and hearing of the 
quarterly meeting, he came to it, intending to avail himself of the presid- 
ing elder's company for several weeks. The absence of the proper incum- 
bent of the district, the Rev. William Adams, of precious memory, did not 
change the Bishop's purpose. He took me for his traveling companion 
and favored us with his services at four successive quarterly meetings. 
Truly, this was to be remembered! During that time I enjoyed the con- 
stant companionship of a grave and dignified man, whose godly example, 
spiritual wisdom, sanctified conscience, and rare piety filled up my idea of a 
bishop of apostolical times and New Testament type. I traveled with him 
over bills and valleys, labored with him in the pulpit, at the altar, occupied 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 307 

the same room, and often shared with him the same bed; retired with him, 
when other convenient places failed, to the same grove for prayer, and wit- 
nessed by day and night his sore afflictions of body and deep travail of spir- 
it for Zion's peace; and surely of patience, meekness, calm submission, for- 
bearance, and, in a word, every grace, every virtue, exhibited on a most 
exalted scale and amidst extraordinary afflictions and sufferings, gave evi- 
dence of a pious mind and a mature Christian; his claim to that character 
was fully vindicated and his living credentials entitled him to the first 

It is now twenty-nine years since the events transpired which furnished 
the matter of this record, and the gems of knowledge then received and the 
lessons of piety, and propriety which his example and conversation taught 
have never been forgotten. On the division of the powers of government 
and administration law, as comprised in the ecclesiastical polity of Method- 
ism, Bishop McKendree held some views which did not accord with the 
politics of some of our expounders of Church law. He did not indorse the 
doctrine that a superior officer had a right to claim the place, or even to 
take it, except for special reasons, and to perform the appropriate and law- 
prescribed duties of an inferior during the term for which the inferior officer 
is held responsible for those duties and while he is recognized as the legal 
incumbent of the work and place assigned him. He did not hold that the 
presence of a bishop superseded the official relations and nullified the au- 
thority, for the time being, of all inferior officers, from the presiding elder 
down; so that a bishop, because he is present, is ex officio, dejure presiding 
elder, and everything else, even to the Omega of the official list. He be- 
lieved that such a policy might become the source of great confusion, that 
it would defeat the ends of government by overleaping the checks and bal- 
ances of power which distinguish the several departments and proportions 
of Methodist polity. 

The Bishop was drawn out fully on this point of ecclesiastical discipline 
by an occurrence which brought the subject directly to view. The presid- 
ing elder was absent; his proxy was attending a series of quarterly meetings 
for him; but while it was competent for the proxy to take the place of his 
principal in the pulpit, in the altar, at the sacramental table, and yet, in 
the absence of the presiding elder, placed the preacher in charge of the cir- 
cuit in the chair of the Quarterly Conference, and therefore the proxy 
could not preside over that body. 

But there was a bishop present, and the preacher in charge, as well as 
the proxy, urged that he, being a superior officer, should preside in the 
Quarterly Conference. To this, however, the Bishop objected; and, in 
stating his reasons, taught substantially this important lesson: a bishop 
has the right, under law, to displace or remove a presiding elder, and either 
to preside in the vacated place himself or to appoint another to do so; and 
a presiding elder has a right, in common with a bishop, to remove a preach- 
er from his charge in the intervals of the Annual Conferences, and either 
in person to perform the duties of the vacant charge or to appoint another 
to the charge; but no bishop has a right, in the face of law, to usurp the po- 

308 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

sition which, for a definite time, has been assigned to an underofficer until 
that definite time shall have expired or the underofficer, for sufficient cause 
shall have been displaced. He allowed, indeed, that a superior officer 
might accept, as a courtesy, the place of an underofficer; but that even 
this should not be done where the harmony and safety of judicial proceed- 
ings might thereby be jeopardized; as, for instance, where such an act might 
subject an officer to the necessity of presiding twice over the adjudication 
of the same case: first, in the court of original proceedings; and, secondly, 
in the appellate court. 1 

Being the subject of an inveterate dyspeptic habit, he was very partic- 
ular in his diet. Plain corn bread or cold wheat loaf, with very little, if any, 
butter; seldom any flesh, choosing a small relish of broiled bacon; some- 
times a cup 01 tea, but more frequently a glass of milk or cold water, com- 
pleted the good man's richest variety of table luxuries. 

He possessed the happy talent, when in a talking mood, of making his 
conversation interesting and instructing. And while his usual themes 
were the doctrines and institutions of the Bible, ecclesiastical history and 
polity, and the preacher's duties as teacher and pastor, occasionally he 
would narrate interesting incidents or discuss natural phenomena. He 
had traveled much in frontier settlements; had seen much and heard more 
of Indian character, and felt the liveliest concern for their welfare. Their 
sagacity struck him forcibly. I shall not soon forget an anecdote he re- 
lated, as illustrative of their shrewdness. I do not know but it has gone to 
print before this, nor whether he claimed originaly for it, but it impressed 
and amused me. It ran thus: 

A party of Indians, on a hunting expedition, had pitched their tents near 
a white settlement, in the backwoods, when one of them found his tent had 
been robbed of some meat: he started in pursuit, and presently meeting a 
white man on horseback, inquired if he had seen an old low white man, 
with a short gun and a stump-tail dog. " Yes," said the horseman, " I met 
just such a man." "He stole my meat," said the Indian. "How do you 
know it was a white man stole it? Might not an Indian have stolen it? " 
"No; when Indian walk, he toes turn in; when white man walk, he toes 
turnout. Man stole my meat he toes turn out, he white man." "How do 
you know he was an old man that stole your meat? May it not have been 
a young man? " "No; he old man. Young man active, step long; old man 
stiff, he step short. Man got my meat step short, he old man." " But why 
do you think he was a low man? " " Why? Meat not high, he got block to 
reach my meat; high man no want block to get my meat, he low man." 
"And how do you know he had a short gun?" " 'Cause, while he get my 
meat, set he gun on ground and lean it against tent-pole log, and make 
mark. I measure it; it short gun." " Well, how on earth do you know he 
had a short-tail dog? " " Well, while man get meat, dog set down out there, 
look at man and shake he tail in snow; make short mark, he short-tailed 

'Is it not possible that the Bishop's position on this point was misunderstood, in part? 
Certainly it does not accord with his carefully written address to his colleagues in 1833, which 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 309 

After relating this amusing incident, the Bishop remarked that this and 
many similar things give us some idea how the children of the forest make 
an effort to compensate the lack of the knowledge of letters. 

Mention has been made in connection with the Bishop's ad- 
dress to the General Conference of 1824 of the name of John 
Summer-field, and from the correspondence between them it 
readily appears that, while the Bishop felt a tender and fatherly 
affection for this highly gifted and eloquent young minister of 
Christ, it was reciprocated by a deeply reverential and filial 
affection. A number of letters before us attest these facts. 
Few, if any, of his years have so arrested public attention and 
been so much admired and loved as Mr. Summerfield. He was 
born in England, January 31, 1798; was carefully trained by 
devoted parents, and enjoyed the advantages of a good literary 
education. His father having moved to Ireland in 1813, he was 
there converted to God in his seventeenth year, and immediate- 
ly began to hold meetings and to labor for the salvation of souls. 
In 1819, he was admitted on trial in the Irish Conference. Such 
were his zeal and pulpit eloquence that, notwithstanding his 
youth, he was chosen to act as missionary through the country. 
His constant labors and devotion to his work in less than three 
years impaired his health and, after a short absence in England, 
where he was greatly admired, he emigrated with his father and 
family and landed in New York in March, 1821. He was at 
once admitted on trial in the New York Conference and began 
a brief and brilliant career of ministerial usefulness in this coun- 
try. His first public address was at the anniversary of the Ameri- 
can Bible Society and excited the admiration of a large and in- 
telligent audience. His unpretending modesty and simplicity 
of manner, the catholicity of his spirit, his chaste style, and the 
subdued fervor of his devotion, combined with the unbroken 
flow of an elocution resembling a beautiful, transparent river 
gliding equably onward to its destination, riveted the attention 
and moved the hearts of his hearers. His youthful appearance 
and the traces of suffering in his pallid face added to the effect 
of his sermons by exciting the apprehension of an early death. 
The sympathetic emotions which usually arise between the 
hearers and the speaker were toward him of a peculiar character. 
Always willing and ready to preach or to labor in any way and 
anywhere for his divine Master's glory, and ever doing it so 
humbly, so modestly, and yet so well, prejudice, rivalry, and 
pride were abashed under his ministry; and he seemed the ideal 

310 Life and Times of Bishop* McKendree 

of purity, the impersonation of the genius of our loving and 
holy Christianity. 

Mr. Summer-field's labors in the United States were abun- 
dant, too abundant for the frail and delicate tabernacle of such 
a soul. He was in demand everywhere now in New York, then 
in Philadelphia, and then in Baltimore, Washington City, and 
in the towns and regions adjacent. Ministers, old and young, 
of all denominations, pushed through dense crowds and sat with 
respect and rapture under his sermons and invited him to their 
pulpits; some pastors of other denominations doing, as did 
Bishop Soule in Baltimore, who, when he and Mr. Summer-field 
had appointments to preach at different churches at the same 
hour, dismissed his congregaion, and said, " Come, let us go and 
hear our beloved John," and hastened to sit and weep under his 
ministry. The writer feels it a privilege to have been drawn, 
through the influence of our mutual and venerated friend, Bish- 
op McKendree, into close association with this godly and guile- 
less man and to have heard him repeatedly for a month in the 
pulpit and in addresses at missionary anniversaries and to chil- 
dren in Sunday schools. Never can he forget hearing him for 
the first time in Baltimore, May 9, 1824. He confesses, too, to 
have had a feeling somewhat akin to prejudice, of which he soon 
became ashamed. Everybody was extolling Mr. Summer-field 
in terms of the highest eulogy. He could but suspect that such 
popularity must excite the vanity and work to the injury of the 
young man, and that it was unreasonable to suppose there 
could be solid ground for such laudation of anyone whose mind 
must be so immature. And yet his excellent and intelligent 
hostess, Mrs. W., praised him; Bishop Soule admired and loved 
him as a son, and, I feared, was a little proud of his pet; and 
even Bishop McKendree spoke of him in his quiet way in a man- 
ner which showed his high esteem and profound affection. So 
I resolved to hear and see for myself. To do this, I got a ticket 
for the love feast to be held in the Caroline Street Church, Balti- 
more, before preaching, and found the building nearly full, 
quite so, except the galleries. The whole General Conference 
seemed there visitors, citizens, strangers all who could get 
tickets had come, and a vast crowd thronged about the church. 
The love feast closed, that crowd literally rushed in, and in a 
few minutes every foot below and in the double galleries was close- 
ly occupied, while the aisles, the doors, the sidewalk in front, and 
on each side of the house and the street back to the opposite 
side were covered with a compact mass, eager to see the preach- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 311 

er or catch a word from his lips. I could but deeply feel the re- 
sponsibility of his position at the minute he appeared, but there 
was no chance to enter at the front, so his friends took him to the 
rear, and, lifting him upon their shoulders, he crept through 
the window near the pulpit. He entered it without looking 
around at the immense audience and fell upon his knees. Pre- 
sently he gave out his hymn in a low but inexpressibly clear and 
sweet voice. It was a grand and familiar old hymn, but the 
reading developed both sentiment and beauty I had never be- 
fore observed in it. A short, solemn, sweet prayer followed, and 
then the sermon. The hymn was " Away, my unbelieving fear," 
and the text was Philippians iv. 6, 7. The skeleton of the ser- 
mon may be found by turning to the second of his published 
discourses; but, alas ! it is merely the skeleton. The living, pale, 
but beautiful little man is not there. His clear, sweet voice, 
not loud and startling, but low, distinct, and musical as the mel- 
ancholy notes of an aeolian harp are not heard; the expressive, 
dove-like eye; the symmetrical, diminutive form, weighing not 
over one hundred and ten pounds; the pallid face, at first wear- 
ing a cast of sadness, then beaming with intellect, and presently 
half radiant " with thoughts that breathe; " and the few gestures 
in which the whole man speaks out and give emphasis to the 
"words that burn" all are wanting. The sermon was simple 
and practical; and while it was evident that he suppressed his 
imagination, yet a few flashes of chaste and thrilling imagery 
seemed spontaneously and irresistibly to burst forth. The ef- 
fect was that the vast concourse retired instructed, impressed, 
and edified. The following year he fell, by consumption, into a 
state of great debility, which neither a sea voyage nor the genial 
climate of Southern France nor the best medical skill could 
arrest. On June 13, 1825, he died in peace and went to rest. 

Nearly fifty years have transpired since this "bright particu- 
lar star" rose in splendor and beauty in our ecclesiastical sky, 
and, after attracting the eyes and winning the hearts of thou- 
sands, sunk beneath the horizon in cloudless effulgence. Truly 
does the poet Montgomery describe him as "the delight of won- 
dering, weeping, and admiring audiences wherever he went." 

Such was the holy man whose many letters, written neatly and 
correctly to his "dear Bishop," now lie before me, and such the 
gifted and sainted genius who called forth the fatherly affection 
of his venerable friend . Who can doubt they have long since met 
and embraced each other again in their "Father's house"? 


Richard Reece and John Hannah messengers from England Mr. Recce's 
letter Bishop McKendree's reply He goes through Kentucky 
Rests five days in ninety-five Attends Kentucky Conference with 
Bishop Roberts J. B. Finley and Dr. M. Ruter Thence to Jonesboro, 
East Tennessee Attends the Holston Conference Lynchburg 
Hezekiah G. Leigh Portsmouth Attends the Baltimore, Philadel- 
phia, New York, and Genesee Conferences Thence to South Carolina 
Virginia in the spring of 1827 Baltimore Philadelphia Thence 
west to the Wyandotte Mission, through Ohio Kentucky Confer- 
ence Winters in Tennessee In 1828, he and Gwin go to the General 
Conference at Pittsburgh Retrospect A true, apostolic "episcopos" 
Jesse Walker Bishop McKendree's characteristics Old Gray 
Another round Philip Bruce Jefferson and Adams die South Caro- 
lina Conference in Augusta, January 11, 1827 Roberts and Soule 
there also Back to Baltimore Sick Gets to the Wyandottes, then to 
Nashville His skeptical doctor convinced Freeborn Garrettson's 
death Indian letter Henry Smith's Letter Letter from Lewis Gar- 

THE REV. RICHARD REECE, the messenger of the Wesleyan 
Methodists of England to the General Conference of 1824, was 
an aged, dignified, and worthy representative of the body which 
deputed him, and manifested the liveliest interest in the spiritual 
welfare of American Methodism. His companion, the Rev. 
John Hannah, was a much younger man, but was a profound 
and able minister. The former long since closed his consistent 
and useful life, the latter more recently, after having filled 
repeatedly the presidential chair of the Conference and of one of 
the famous Wesleyan Theological Schools. They closely ob- 
served the operations of our system of Church government, 
and after they returned to England, Bishop McKendree re- 
ceived the following interesting letter from Mr. Reece, dated 
September 27, 1825: 

Reverend and Dear Sir: I reflect with sincere pleasure on the few months 
which I spent on the American continent and the free and affectionate 
intercourse which I had with the members of your Church, or, in English 
phrase, "of your society." The kind attentions which I everywhere re- 
ceived from the preachers and the people have laid me under additional 
obligation to do and to say all that I can to promote the individual happi- 
ness of my friends and to advance the prosperity of Wesleyan Methodism, 
which is the cause of Christ; with this cause all our happiness and useful- 
ness are identified. Can I do this more effectually than by stating what has 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 313 

appeared to me to be a difference between our system of discipline, or ac- 
tion,, and yours, and then leaving you to determine whether the peculiarity 
of your circumstances renders a conformity to our plan impracticable and 
your own better adapted to spread and establish scriptural Christianity 
through your vast country? 

1. With us it is an indispensable duty of the pastoral office to see the 
individual members of our society every quarterly visitation at least, to 
know how their souls prosper, and then to renew the quarterly ticket, with 
suitable advice, admonition, and reproof, and also to receive the quarter- 
age which every one gives. This brings the pastor and his flock into close 
and immediate contact and intercourse; and while the one acquires a 
knowledge of the spiritual state and improvement of the souls committed 
to his care, the others have an opportunity of freely stating their cases 
and opening their hearts to him who is appointed to watch over them as 
one that must give an account to God. By this the parties are mutually 
endeared and the public ministrations of the preacher are more acceptable 
and more efficient. The delivery of the quarterly tickets is peculiarly, 
exclusively, and indispensably the duty of the preacher. 

2. In addition to this, we are bound to meet the societies every Sun- 
day evening, after preaching, when we speak pointedly to them on the 
discharge of relative duties, the government of their families, the religious 
instruction of their children, their diligent attendance on all the ordi- 
nances of God, their observance of the rules, and many other subjects 
which have an important influence on the formation of the Christian 
character. I have feared that your custom of beginning public worship 
so late as eight o'clock must greatly hinder this, if it do not supersede it. 
I grant, the labor of the preacher is greatly increased, but to these we are 

3. Our band meetings have a most powerful influence on the experience 
and improvement of our people. The deep things of God form the subject 
of their conversation at these meetings, and the freedom and openness 
with which they speak upon them promotes their intellectual growth, so 
that these often become the most exemplary and useful members of our 
societies, furnishing male and female leaders of a high and excellent charac- 
ter. Mr. Wesley was aware of the importance of this part of Methodist 
discipline, and he used to say: "Where there are no bands, there is no 

4. The leaders of our classes are required to collect weekly what each 
member can give to the support of the work, according to the rule, and to 
mark it down in the class papers, and at our weekly leaders' meeting to 
pay this into the hands of the society steward, by which means a supply is 
provided for the support of the preachers; and, as the sum is small which is 
individually subscribed, it is not felt a burden by the poorest of our mem- 
bers, nor does it excite discontent or complaint; on the contrary, the 
people are more alive to the interests of a cause which they support. 

In your scattered population, it would be difficult for the preachers to 
carry the whole of the Methodist discipline into effective operation; but in 

314 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

those cities and towns which I visited, I could see no insurmountable 
obstacles. All that I could perceive wanting was a vigorous and united 
determination among the preachers to act in concert in carrying the point. 
Many of the people with whom I had intercourse greatly long to see these 
things established among them, convinced of the general advantage which 
would result from them to the body and, indeed, to the country at large. 

I thought of multiplying these remarks, but at present will desist. 

It has afforded me much satisfaction to learn that the spirit of innova- 
tion, which prevailed when I was with you, has subsided and is likely to 
evaporate without doing much evil. 

I wrote to Dr. Jennings on the subject of his publishing Mark Robin- 
son's pamphlet, and sent him a copy of a review which places that subject 
in a proper light, claiming, on the ground of "mutual rights," that it 
might be inserted in that publication. English Methodism will then be 
presented in a more correct light before our American brethren, which we 
are anxious should be the case. Whether he will comply with my request, 
I have not heard; but as the review was quickly afterwards sent to your 
editors, in our July and August magazines, possibly they may insert it in 
their publication. If we can mutually benefit each other, and contribute 
to the greater efficiency of Wesleyan Methodism on both sides of the Atlan- 
tic, the great end of our more frequent and free intercourse will be an- 

I send you a copy of the Minutes of our last Conference, from which you 
will see that the increase of our members has been but small, for which we 
are not able to assign any reason, as the general state of our societies is 
prosperous as it regards stability and a deepening of the work of God. 
However, our prospects are encouraging. A glorious revival has com- 
menced in the Isle of Man since the Conference and is now extending very 
much. Many sinners are awakened and converted to God, and many of 
the believers have received a deep baptism of the Holy Ghost, preparing 
them to be "vessels unto honor, meet for the Master's use," in extending 
and establishing this work. 

We have lost two most valuable men, in the vigor of their life, since the 
Conference, highly gifted, eminently holy and useful men, removed sud- 
denly from the work and their families. The dispensation is mysterious, 
but the rod has a voice and speaks impressively, "All flesh is grass, and 
the goodliness thereof as the flower of the grass," etc. Others, it is true, 
are raised up to supply their places, but their knowledge, experience, 
and godly influence are not soon acquired; their loss is therefore pain- 
fully felt. 

We are looking forward to the next Conference with pleasure, when we 
expect to receive our American brother, the messenger of the Churches, 
and are praying that he may come in the fullness of the blessings of the 
gospel and bring us glad tidings of your prosperity. May his coming be 
a blessing to us and contribute to our encouragement and edification! 
I beg to be kindly remembered to all my American brethren and friends 
with whom you may meet in your travels. I remember them with growing 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 315 

affection, and hope to meet them in a better state, where there are no sep- 

I am, reverend and dear sir, your affectionate friend and brother, 


To which the Bishop replied from Baltimore, July 10, 1826: 

Reverend and Dear Brother: Your kind and truly interesting letter of 
September 27, 1825, did not reach me till the fourth instant. This will ac- 
count for what otherwise might appear to be unjustifiable delay in recipro- 
cating your favor. Accept my thanks for your letter and the documents 
accompanying it. I shall always rejoice to hear from you. Letters or 
pamphlets addressed to the care of Armstrong & Plaskit, of this city, will 
hardly fail to reach me. 

Your friendly visit to this country could not have been more pleasing to 
yourself than to the American preachers and societies who were favored 
with a personal acquaintance with you or had the opportunity of enjoying 
the benefit of your ministerial labors. In addition to every personal and 
individual consideration, your visit to us was rendered deeply interesting, 
as it was the pledge of union in doctrine, discipline, and affection between 
the Wesleyan Methodists throughout the world; and I trust that I shall not 
cease to pray to the God aind Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is Head 
over all things to the Church, that the same faith and order and brotherly 
love may continue and abound more and more. That there has been and 
still is considerable laxity in regard to discipline among us in the particu- 
lars which you notice is certain, and the effects are to be deplored. For 
it is very obvious that as the rules of the societies are neglected or the ad- 
ministration let down in accommodation to the wealth, influence, habits, 
or education of men, or from whatever other cause, there will be a loss in 
experimental and practical holiness, in inward and outward conformity to 
God. Two circumstances have had very considerable influence in produc- 
ing and perpetuating this laxity. The first is the vast extent of our field of 
labor. We occupy, with pretty closely connected circuits, districts, and 
Conferences, the whole of the Atlantic States, extending from the Bay 
of Fundy to the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of more than two thousand 
miles, on the most direct post roads, and have spread over the frontier 
States and Territories situated from five hundred to one thousand miles 
from the ocean. Occupying such an extensive country, where the in- 
habitants are collected from nearly all the civilized nations of the world 
and where the emigration from one State to another is perpetual, it is 
extremely difficult, not to say impossible, to establish and preserve the 
discipline of the Church as effectually as might be done in a condensed and 
permanent state of society. The infancy of our ministry is closely con- 
nected with the extent of our labor and tends to render the administration 
of discipline inefficient. Most of the preachers in this country enter the 
connection very young and without any extraordinary advantages of 
education; and, in general, the means of improvement in their circuits 
are very limited. Locations are frequent; consequently, we have compara- 

316 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

tively very few men of age and experience in the itinerant work. In many 
instances we are compelled to commit the charge, not only of circuits, but 
of districts also, to young men of too little experience for such stations. 
But, notwithstanding this state of things, we have ground to hope for 
better days, especially since the last General Conference. Among the 
preachers generally, there appears to be a conviction of the necessity of 
a more uniform and diligent attention to a strict observance of the rules. 
It has become a subject of serious interest in the deliberations of the An- 
nual Conferences; and many thousands of our members, especially those 
who have seen both the former and the latter times, are earnestly de- 
sirous of the same thing. 

The appointment of a messenger to visit your Conference the present 
year (as you will have heard before this letter arrives) has failed; but I am 
happy to say that the failure was not occasioned, even in the most remote 
manner, by a want of disposition to cultivate the most friendly and harmo- 
nious intercourse with our brethren in England, but from causes alto- 
gether extraneous and local. But, although we have not been able to ac- 
complish this desirable object the present year, I indulge the hope that it 
will be effected the next; and I trust that the visitation will not be unac- 
ceptable to our British brethren on account of a year's delay. 

We have much cause of gratitude to God for the increasing prosperity 
of the work generally through these States. The increase of members 
the last year, commencing with the Mississippi and closing with the Ten- 
nessee Conference, was upward of twenty thousand, and the increase of 
preachers for the same period eighty-one. 

There is cause to believe that the exertions which have been made to 
produce disaffection to the government and discipline of the Church will 
fail to accomplish the desired effect to any considerable extent, and that, 
in the ministry and membership, we shall still preserve the "unity of the 
Spirit in the bond of peace." The history of those who have separated 
themselves from us and set up "altar against altar," is not calculated to 
afford ground of gratulation or encouragement to adventurers, but rather 
marks the enterprise as hazardous. The itinerant ministry, preserved in 
the "demonstration of the Spirit and of power," will be our salt and the 
salt of the earth. The great body of local preachers and members are 
identified in doctrine, spirit, and order with the great itinerant system. 
Attacks have been made upon us and will be repeated. Men, ambitious of 
rule and restless under the administration of wholesome and godly dis- 
cipline, will not cease to complain of injured rights, grievances, and oppres- 
sion; and in every extensive community individuals will be found to re- 
spond to these complaints. Such individuals have appeared among the 
Methodists on both sides of the Atlantic; but hitherto the great body of 
the ministers and members has been firm and steadfast, and I trust will 
continue to be "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might," and to 
abound more and more in the unity and fellowship of saints. 

The success of our missionary labors is cause of encouragement, grati- 
tude, and joy. Although the number of our stations and our means of 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 317 

supplying them are small compared with those of our British brethren, we 
are (thanks be to God!) accomplishing a great and blessed work. Thou- 
sands of the poor and scattered population of the States and Territories are 
through this means receiving the blessing of the gospel of Christ. Most of 
our missions among the Indians have succeeded far beyond the most san- 
guine expectations of their warmest friends at the commencement. You 
will be in possession, it is probable, of the latest official reports from the 
missionaries and the Board of Managers before this reaches you, in which 
you will have a more circumstantial account than could well be furnished 
in a private letter. 

In view of the great and marvelous work which God has wrought in 
the four quarters of the globe by the instrumentality of the Methodists 
since the day on which he raised up that "burning and shining light," the 
Rev. John Wesley, of most precious memory, it is very meet that we should 
be humble and thankful, and, as regards the future, that we should strive 
together in the meekness of Christ, and in steadfast dependence upon 
divine agency till truth and righteousness fill the whole earth. 

As it respects myself, the time of my departure cannot be far off. I have 
entered the seventieth year of my pilgrimage and now tremble, leaning 
on my staff. Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my 
life, and the witness of the Spirit and the hope of the gospel are the solace 
of my age. 

Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied to thee and to the Church of 
God, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen. 

Yours affectionately, W. MCKENDREE. 

So soon as the roads became passable in the spring of 1825, 
the Bishop started from his brother's, in Tennessee, and re- 
sumed his labors in visiting the Churches and preaching. On 
April 15 he left home, or if that term does not apply to a man 
who, like his Lord, never really had a home on earth, Fountain 
Head. He reached Slaughter's, Ky., in the rain, on the sixteenth, 
preached there on the seventeenth from John iii. 19-22; preached 
in Russellville on the twentieth, at Cook's Meetinghouse on the 
twenty-second from Matthew v. 6; preached Fell's funeral 
sermon on the twenty-fourth; on the twenty-sixth, preached 
from Matthew xi. 30; traveled through "a great rain" to 
James's; through rain again, to Staley's and Taylor's; another 
funeral sermon, May 1, from Isaiah Ixv. 22; funeral sermon next 
day, from 1 Samuel xii. 23; then to Barret's, Owen's, Mount 
Zion, and so on, through Hardinsburg, to Lebanon, preaching or 
traveling every day. Thence he proceeded to B. McHenry's, 
Springfield, Puller's, and Ferguson's, and preached nearly every 
day until June 3, when he reports himself sick. But in a day or 
two he is on his way again, twenty miles, to a quarterly meeting. 
Thus on he goes, through Harrisburg, Lexington, and George- 

318 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

town, by Leroy Cole's, etc., until he reaches Cynthiana, June 
17, resting only five in ninety-five days. Pretty good work for 
an old afflicted man ! Most of our young preachers would think 
it hard work. 

On this tour he falls in with Brother B. T. Crouch and spends 
a month with him, as already related. Then we lose sight of 
him for a short time, but presently he is found in Shelbyville, 
attending the Kentucky Conference with Bishop Roberts at 
Russellville, September 22, 1825, and we find among his papers 
regular Minutes of the whole proceedings of the body, appoint- 
ments and all. There he gets a long letter from the Rev. J. B. 
Finley, the laborious and useful missionary to the Wyandottes. 
He answers with a heart warm to his correspondent and full of 
love to the Indians. He almost shouts in the letter, saying: 
"The Lord is very good to me. My spiritual strength is re- 
newed; I am growing in grace, and ripening for heaven; for 
which I desire to be deeply thankful, and entirely devoted to 
God." There, too, he gets a kind letter from that noble and 
devoted servant of the Church, the Rev. Martin Ruter, who 
threw himself, from the purest religious motives, into the active 
duties of the missionary work and fell a martyr to the cause in 
Texas, where his remains and his memory are honored by his 

Whether the two great bodies of American Methodism, which 
separated in 1844, will ever again unite is very uncertain. At 
present this seems improbable, not to say impracticable; but 
certainly there are ties which tend to amity and fraternity of 
a strong and peculiar nature. A common origin, similarity of 
creed, Church polity, and usages, and a strong affection and 
sacred reminiscences of many honored and precious names 
equally dear to both must exert an attracting influence upon 
them. Among many other names, Dr. Martin Ruter's is one. 

From the seat of the Kentucky Conference he takes our old 
route over the Cumberland Mountain, and through East 
Tennessee to Jonesboro, where the Holston Conference held its 
session. Thence crossing the Alleghany Mountains, he reaches 
Lynchburg, Va., attends a quarterly meeting with Hezekiah G. 
Leigh, of honored and precious memory, and hastens down 
through the snow to the quarterly meeting on old Greenville 
Circuit, where he exercised his early ministry and where are 
found "our most disaffected members of this district." He 
reaches Mecklenburg, December 5, to recruit and write letters, 
one of them to Bishop Soule in Milledgeville, Ga. Portsmouth 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 319 

brings him to a short halt; from there to Baltimore, Philadelphia, 
New York, and Genesee Conferences, and returns to the South 
in the fall. The following winter he spent in attending the 
South Carolina and Virginia Conferences, and came back to the 
Baltimore and Philadelphia Conferences in the spring of 1827. 
At the close of the Philadelphia session he returns to Balti- 
more, and in May starts back to the West; crossing the Allegha- 
ny Mountains by way of Cumberland; passing into Ohio to 
visit, for the third time, his beloved Wyandottes and their 
faithful missionaries. Returning, he again passed through 
Urbana, and visited many of the towns in the southern part of 
Ohio, and attended the Kentucky Conference in Versailles in 
October. Thence he went down into Tennessee and spent the 
winter among his friends, visiting the societies and preaching 
as he was able. 

In March, 1828, he set out with two delegates of that Con- 
ference, one of them his old friend, James Gwin, for Pittsburgh, 
the seat of the General Conference, and arrived there a few days 
before it began. 

Having thus given a concise account of his travels and labors 
for the past four years and up to the session of another General 
Conference, we have reached a point from which it is proper to 
retrospect the past. We see a man who has been granted a 
superannuated relation for the last eight years and requested to 
do only such service as his health and convenience might justify, 
now over seventy years of age, enfeebled by forty years' in- 
cessant toil, afflicted with rheumatism, piles, hernia, vertigo, 
and asthma, and yet making the circuit of the United States 
annually, not in stagecoaches over macadamized roads or 
on railroads, but generally on horseback, slowly traversing 
Indian territory, climbing mountains, fording and sometimes 
swimming swollen streams, through muddy roads and swamps, 
often lying in miserable huts and open, dirty cabins, subsisting, 
frequently of necessity, on coarse and badly cooked food, going 
through malarious regions under a burning sun, and then 
through the rains and sleet and snows of winter; of a tempera- 
ment peculiarly sensitive, carrying on a correspondence with 
persons in every part of the country, and, above all, oppressed 
with "the care of all the Churches." And yet he never willingly 
ceased his painful travel or murmured at the hardships and 
sufferings endured! And was not he a true "overseer"? a 
Pauline "episcopos"? a real New Testament bishop? What 
if he could not trace an undoubted personal ordinal succession 

320 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

from Peter or John? Who really can? And what if anyone can? 
Alexander VI, Leo X, John XII, Benedict IX, Sylvester III, 
and Gregory VII "horrible monsters as ever lived" even 
the four popes living at the same time, each anathematizing the 
others and calling them devils and antichrists yet each and all 
claimed it. 

Equally absurd is the claim of the Protestant Church of 
England, the Church of Henry VIII, whose "Majesty is the 
only supreme head of the Church of England and Ireland," 
which, in severing her allegiance from the Romish Church, 
claimed to do so, not, of course, on the ground of succession, but 
of prescription i. e., a right before and independent of all 
written law a "divine right" and yet, from the youngest 
proselyte to the episcopacy, they are now claiming that they 
only are the successors, by virtue of their official lineage, of the 
apostles; while Coke, Asbury, and McKendree are no bishops 
at all! Well, let the Chief Shepherd decide. 

Among the many correspondents of the Bishop during 1825, 
he received one letter from his old friend and colaborer, Jesse 
Walker, dated Sangamon, 111., May 18, 1825. Mr. Walker was 
a rare character. He joined the Tennessee Conference in 1802 
and traveled under Bishop McKendree as his presiding elder for 
several years. His literary education was quite limited, and he 
was a married man. Bishop McKendree was an excellent judge 
of men, and soon selected him to take the van of the pioneer army 
of preachers in the West; and the result vindicated his wisdom. 
Jesse Walker was a brave, self-reliant, zealous Christian minis- 
ter. He feared only God, and his great purpose was to be good 
and useful. The poor, the frontier settlements, where women 
and children endured the hardships of isolation from society and 
were exposed to the tomahawk, the scalping knife, and, what 
was worse, to the torture of fathers and sons and the captivity 
of wives and daughters, excited his sympathies; and the poor 
pagan Indians themselves, often as "much sinned against as 
sinning," aroused his Christian zeal. He may have had also an 
inclination for adventure and an instinctive passion for a roving 
life among the grand old forests and the wide, flowering prairies 
of the West. But his ruling passion was to preach Christ "in 
the regions beyond." For this kind of life he was admirably 
adapted physically, intellectually, and morally. To a consti- 
tution of iron a strong, compact frame, capable of great en- 
durance was added a calm, shrewd mind of fine common sense, 
and a wonderful aptitude to adapt himself to his circumstances, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 321 

and thus gain the confidence and exert a controlling influence 
over the rude settlers of the backwoods and the more wary and 
suspicious Indians. Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, 
and Missouri were the fields of his labor. He planted the gospel 
in St. Louis and by his personal effort built the first Methodist 
church there. He has been styled the Daniel Boone of the 
Church, but he was more; his impulses were holier, his motives 
and ends were nobler. He had a tender and manly love for his 
wife, and an occasional visit to his home was relished as a reli- 
gious holiday. His family enjoyed the narratives of his travels 
and toils and entered into his feelings and plans for the good of 
souls. From his letter to the Bishop, now before us, we learn he 
had established missions among the Indians at Fort Clarke and 
Chicago and was about to go farther northwest to other tribes. 
He survived Bishop McKendree only eight months, and died 
calmly at home in Illinois, saying: "God has been with me from 
the time of my conversion, and is still with me." Few preachers 
have equaled him in enduring hardness as a good soldier or been 
so useful as a missionary on the frontiers and among the wild 

Little things sometimes better develop the true character of a 
man than his professions or public actions, as the finer touches 
of the limner's pencil best reveal the original. The great ocean 
is made of little drops of water; the Himalaya Mountains by 
the aggregation of small particles; so of great characters. Bish- 
op McKendree was not transcendently great in anything; 
others surpassed him in many particulars, and yet, in the aggre- 
gate, very few equaled him. Some are great in great things, but 
small in little things intellectually great, but deficient in heart 
and practically useless, if not pernicious, and they resemble a 
huge, bare mountain, composed of blocks of volcanic rocks; 
not a tree or shrub hides its ruggedness or a single wild flower 
adorns it, or even a lichen or sprig of Iceland moss finds foot- 
hold for its hardy roots; but the snow-crowned and ice-clad 
monarch is utterly barren of good and serves only to chill the 
air and dwarf the vegetation around its base. So was Lord 
Byron. Bishop McKendree was only a man, a frail, fallen one, 
like all his race; but he was a full-grown and symmetrically 
proportioned man, in body, mind, and heart; and the whole man 
was permeated and elevated by piety. He had not only a mind 
of rare analytical and logical acumen, of extraordinary legisla- 
tive and administrative ability, but of strong and tender sympa- 
thies. No unfortunate preacher need ever be afraid to approach 

322 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

and tell him all his wants and woes. He was stern only toward 
sin and exacting toward himself alone. The following incident 
will at once illustrate his kind and genial nature: 

Like all the early Methodist preachers of the ecclesiastical 
cavalry corps, he valued his horse. He did not swap horses and 
did not profess much skill in judging as to age, etc. ; when obliged 
to get a horse, he usually deputed some old friend who better un- 
derstood the subject to swap or purchase one for him; but when 
he got one that suited him, no money could purchase it. If his 
horse got sick or lame, he would leave him in good hands and 
buy another, and in six or twelve months would return, or send 
for him. An instance of this kind occurred in 1825 on one of his 
long tours, and, from a letter before us, he had written back to 
Tennessee for his nephew to go for him and take good care of 
him until he should return. It was his famous "Old Gray." 
He had ridden this horse again and again around the circuit of 
the United States. His qualities as a riding horse suited his 
aged master. They suited each other, and there was a strong 
mutual attachment. Gray was almost as well known by thou- 
sands as was his owner. In the Bishop's last will and testament, 
he bequeathed to Old Gray money sufficient out of his little 
savings to furnish him plenty of food, a good stable, a nice 
blue-grass pasture for life, and an honorable burial. The last 
time we heard from Old Gray he was about thirty years old, and 
was fat and flourishing in a gray old age. 

The events of 1826 were too important to be passed over 
cursorily. We have followed Bishop McKendree from the 
West to Virginia, and through the snows of the winter of 1825- 
26, making his toilsome journey to Portsmouth; there meeting 
Bishop Soule, they presided over the Virginia Conference, 
February 15, 1826, where the project was initiated for the estab- 
lishment of a literary institution of high grade, which ultimated 
in founding Randolph-Macon College. On March 8, the Balti- 
more Conference was attended by the same bishops. The 
Philadelphia Conference followed, April 12; and on May 7, 
Bishop McKendree preached and dedicated Willett Street 
Church, in New York, Bishop Soule preaching in the afternoon 
and Bishop Hedding at night. May 15, the seventh anniver- 
sary of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church was held in old John Street Church, New York, Bishop 
McKendree presiding, Bishops Soule and Hedding, Dr. Bangs, 
Dr. Luckey, Dr. Fisk, Samuel Merwin, and Freeborn Garrettson 
taking parts in the meeting. It was an exceedingly interesting 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 323 

occasion. The place in which it was held the cradle of Ameri- 
can Methodism the venerable and talented ministers who 
bore a conspicuous position in it, as well as the great object 
of the meeting, all conspired to give it dignity and interest. 

The New York Conference began May 10, 1826, attended by 
the three bishops named; and the Genesee Conference began at 
Palmyra, N. Y., June 7, Bishops McKendree and Hedding pre- 
siding. A camp meeting, attended by ten thousand persons, was 
held in a grove at the same time. Bishop McKendree preached 
at ten o'clock Sunday to this immense concourse. 

'May 10, the Bishop's old colleague and long- tried friend, 
Philip Bruce, died in Giles County, Tenn., in the triumph of 
Christian faith. He entered the itinerancy in 1781, seven years 
earlier than the Bishop, and died a superannuated member of 
the Virginia Conference. He was a wise, holy, and useful man; 
assisted greatly in laying the foundation of the government of 
the Church, and was always true and faithful to its interests. 
The Bishop mourned his death as a brother. 1 

l When Philip Bruce became an itinerant preacher in 1781, there were 
only about 20 preachers, and less than 10,000 members in America. (See 
Minutes, 1780.) He is said to have been teaching school in North Carolina 
when the war of the Revolution occurred; quit his school, raised a company 
of volunteers, acted gallantly in the great battle of King's Mountain, and 
became distinguished for his zeal and usefulness as a preacher. He was 
for many years a presiding elder in the Virginia Conference; bore a con- 
spicuous part in forming the constitution and polity of the Church, and 
was regarded by Asbury and McKendree as a wise and trusty adviser; 
and, after he had become superannuated, he came to Tennessee and re- 
sided at his brother's. The writer knew him well and revered and loved 
him greatly. He was indeed a holy, cheerful, and useful preacher. Dr. 
G. D. Taylor, who was with him at his death, says the night before he died 
he requested "to be left alone with God." And when the Doctor entered 
his room, at the early dawn of day, and asked how he was, and how he had 
spent the night, his countenance brightened, and he replied: "O Doctor, I 
am perfectly happy! I have been almost in heaven all night! Such views 
of God, of Christ and glory ! " And thus, in perfect rapture, he passed from 
earth to heaven. Like McKendree, he never married, but gave his whole 
life to God and Methodism; and, like him, he died happy. He professed 
to enjoy the blessings of sanctifying grace; he preached it; lived an exempli- 
fication of it, and died its witness. He resided in the immediate neighbor- 
hood of my father; baptized, married, and buried several of our family, 
and was a great blessing to the community even in his extreme old age. 
His memory is dear to many, and to none more than to the writer. What 
a state of society must that be in heaven made up of such as he! But a 
greater and lovelier than he is there! 

324 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

After attending the Philadelphia Conference, in June, he 
returned South by way of Baltimore, arriving in Washington 
City soon after July 4, upon which day Thomas Jefferson and 
John Adams died, just fifty years after they subscribed the 
Declaration of Independence. Thus its author and its ablest 
advocate "were not in death divided." 

August 29, Bishop McKendree leaves his old friend Foxhall's, 
Georgetown, to go South and attend the South Carolina Con- 
ference, at Augusta, Ga., passing through and preaching (1 
Thess. v. 21-24) in Fairfax, Fauquier, and Culpepper Counties, 
to Madison Camp Meeting, where he preached twice (Isa. xlv. 
22); thence .to Timber-lake's, in Fluvanna, where he preached 
three times at a camp meeting (Matt. v. 6; Matt. xi. 28-30; 
Eph. vi. 1-4). 

He attended and preached three times the next week at a 
camp meeting in Nelson County; the same the following week at 
the Buckingham Camp Meeting; then at a camp meeting in 
Mecklenburg, and spent a few days among his old friends 
Edmund, Howell, and Allen Taylor preaching nearly every 
day. Thence, crossing Roanoke, through Granville and Person 
Counties, N. C., to a camp meeting in Halifax, Va.; and thence, 
resuming his route, through Caswell and Guilford, N. C., stop- 
ping to rest a day at Mendenhall's, after riding thirty-four miles 
the previous day, attending several meetings. Crossing Pee- 
dee River, he pushed forward to Columbia, S. C.; thence to 
Charleston, December 9, 1826. Here he rested a few days, if 
preaching, writing, and visiting daily may be called resting; 
and, after attending two quarterly meetings and preaching four 
times on the way, he arrived in Augusta, Ga., January 8, 1827.. 

The South Carolina Conference commenced here January 11, 
Bishops Roberts and Soule being present. The three bishops, 
after the close of the Conference, left in company; Bishop 
Roberts went home and the other two traveled back to Balti- 
more together, going through Camden, Fayetteville, Raleigh, 
Fredericksburg, and Georgetown, arriving at Baltimore, March 
27; and, after attending and presiding at Conferences and anni- 
versaries in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York Bishop 
McKendree gets back to Baltimore, May 4, and reports himself 
sick and no wonder. 

Thus in his seventieth year did he go on, on in his never- 
ceasing round of travel and sufferings. 

We have already referred to the fact that his next move was 
for his Indian friends; and, after a long and wearisome ride, he 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 325 

again gets to the Wyandottes, June 16, 1827; thence back again 
to Tennessee, where winter overtook him and compelled him to 
lie up until spring. Here, in the society of his relatives, and at 
Nashville, in the hospitable mansions of Joseph T. Elliston, 
whose excellent wife had been the widow of his beloved and 
lamented colaborer, Learner Blackman, and H. R. W. Hill, both 
of whom kept a room known as the Bishop's room, where he was 
ever welcome and most kindly treated, he passed much of his 
time during the winters spent in Tennessee, always busy writing 
or reading. An incident occurred about this time at Mr. 
Elliston's which is perhaps worth recording. He was very sick 
and suffering exquisitely. A doctor was called, and, upon ex- 
amining his venerable patient, became alarmed and also" greatly 
surprised that under such torturing pain he was so quiet and 
uncomplaining, and referred to it, saying, "Bishop, how can you 
bear such pain so quietly?" The old gentleman opened his 
eyes, and, looking with a smile at the inquirer, answered: 
"Doctor, does your philosophy explain how a Christian can be 
perfectly happy while his body is in agony? Must there not be 
a soul in him? " The doctor was silent, for he was skeptical, and 
then said: "Bishop, it must be so." 

On September 27, 1827, Freeborn Garrettson, another of the 
Bishop's old fellow laborers and a most laborious, useful, and 
lovely man, died in New York. He was a native of Maryland; 
born 1752; converted in 1775, and began to preach the same 
year. His labors extended throughout Maryland, Pennsyl- 
vania, New York, and New England, Virginia, North Carolina, 
and Nova Scotia. His faithful and highly useful life as an itin- 
erant preacher was continued to his death, covering an eventful 
period in Methodism of fifty-two years. His piety was pro- 
found and uniform; and few men have done more for Methodism 
and for the conversion and salvation of souls. He had recently 
parted for the last time from the Bishop at the New York Con- 
erence. The year previously Bishops McKendree and Hedding 
had visited and rested several days at his hospitable house at 
Rhinebeck, and, just before his death, he had been again elected 
a delegate to the General Conference of 1828, but his long and 
arduous labors were succeeded by perpetual rest, and his spirit 
went to God who gave it. He lived and died professing perfect 
love, and his life and dying testimony vindicated the truthful- 
ness of his profession. He was greatly and justly respected in 
life, and his name and memory are honored by all who knew 

326 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

Throughout the whole ministerial life of Bishop McKendree 
we are impressed with his devotion to the cause of missions. 
The frontier settlers, Africa, the slaves in America, and the 
Indians all shared in his sympathies and efforts. Here we find 
him again enduring another long and tiresome journey to visit 
the Indians, and that this affectionate concern for their spiritual 
welfare was appreciated by them, the following letter demon- 

UPPER SANDUSKY, September 5, 1825. 

Father: On the fifth day of the first fall month we are assembled to- 
gether, and all of us salute you in the Lord; returning thanks to God that 
he has spared us all alive and that all the leaders that you saw here when 
you were with us last are still alive and have good health with most of our 

Bishop McKendree, father in the Church, we, your brethren and 
children, send you this letter to let you know some of the good that has fall- 
en to us through your exertions in sending us the most blessed gospel. We 
still are watching and laboring, and are determined to do so till the end 
comes. Many of our people are still on their way to heaven and are happy 
in the love of God; and we, your leaders in the Church, are still going from 
house to house, and trying with all our might to banish all evil from 
amongst our people. 

But, father, we must tell you the bad with the good. Some of our people 
slid back. This we know will not be so pleasant for you to hear; but you 
must pity us and help us by your prayers; though we are not out of heart, 
for we still believe the Lord will hear our prayers, and the work we will 
never give up. Although we have many difficulties to encounter, the Lord 
helps us, and we are much encouraged, and we think we are gaining 
strength. One of our chiefs, Warpole, that did not belong to us, has joined, 
and this day was received into full connection and appointed one of the 
leaders. We hope he will prove faithful and make us a strong stake. 

The school is still prospering, and our children are like the buds of the 
trees in the spring; and although we have not yet tasted the ripe fruit we 
see the blossoms and rejoice in expectation and believe we will not be dis- 
appointed. We still pray that you continue your care for us and our 
children; and through you we return our thanks to all our friends that have 
contributed to help forward this great work among our Nation. We hope 
they will not get tired, but as they have helped us to wake out of our deep 
sleep and on to our feet, they will still help until we can walk and gather food 
for ourselves. 

In our farming business we are still on the march, and go the slower be- 
cause we are poor and unacquainted with the business; but our condition is 
altered very much for the better. Father, when we last took you by the 
hand, you told us you was old, and did never expect to see us again. This 
made us very sorry, but we still hoped God would bring you back this last 
summer; but we heard you do not expect to get here. It may be God will 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 327 

appoint a day for us to see one another on earth again; but if not, we are 
determined to do as you told us and hold fast until we meet in heaven. 
There we hope to meet you, and all your brothers in the ministry. Father, 
we cannot express our minds to you and your brothers (the bishops) as we 
feel for the gospel; and we do thank you all, and want you to know that we 
pray for you all, and we hope you will not forget to pray for us. 

BETWEBN-THE-LOGS, his X mark. 

JOHN HICKS, his X mark. 

MENONCUE, his X mark. 

PEACOCK, his X mark. 

GEORGE PUNCH, his X mark. 


HARREHOOT, his X mark. 

JAMES BIG TREE, his X mark. 

This letter was dictated by Between-the-Logs and Menoncue and inter- 
preted by Isaac Walker, United States interpreter, and written by myself 
as interpreted. 

Certified by me. J. B. FINLEY. 

We cannot forego the pleasure of inserting here the following 
letter to the author from the Rev. Henry Smith. He entered 
the traveling connection in 1794 and was associated with the 
Bishop, both in the Atlantic and Western Conferences, for 
many years. It was written in 1855, having heard that the 
writer had been requested to prepare and publish the life of the 
Bishop. He was then residing near Baltimore and was among 
the oldest, if not the very oldest, of living itinerant Methodist 
preachers, being eighty-five years of age and about sixty years 
in the itinerancy. He has since gone to rest. The greater part 
was written by a lady friend at his dictation, the remainder by 
his own aged and trembling hand. It is a valuable memorial of 
its venerated author, as well as an affectionate tribute to the 
memory of his beloved old colleague and friend. 

To Bishop R. Pain. 

Reverend and Dear Sir: I am truly glad that we are at last to have a 
Memoir, or Life, of that extraordinary man, Bishop McKendree. I think 
the Conference has been happy in their selection, and have reason to be- 
lieve it will be a fair and impartial history of that excellent man and his 
times. I fear you are not furnished ample matter to enable you to do 
justice to your subject. Our early preachers seemed to have lived and 
labored not for history, but for the generation they were appointed to 
serve; a Garrettson and Waiters have left something to perpetuate their 
memory, but of the talented E. Cooper and his associates the present 
generation knows very little. 

Now, dear Bishop, it would give me pleasure, and I would esteem it an 

328 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

honor, to furnish you with some material to make your "Life of McKen- 
dree" complete; but alas! my sight and memory are greatly impaired; 
withal, I am troubled with vertigo, and my kind doctor forbids me to read or 
write much; but when my old and esteemed friend Bishop McKendree is 
concerned, I am inclined to disobey the doctor, and venture to furnish you 
with a few scraps; perhaps you can pick something out of them. 

Of Bishop McKendree's early history I personally know nothing; and 
yet I think I can correct Dr. McClintock in one thing which he says in his 
sketch of McKendree, on page 69. That William McKendree was a patriot 
of high order, there remains not a doubt; but from what he told me while 
riding over the ground in October, 1820, he belonged to a company of 
country volunteers, raised, I presume, in his immediate neighborhood. 
They were at the siege of Yorktown, and he pointed out to me the place 
where they were encamped and where they were drilled; but what rank he 
sustained in the army, or what part he bore on that memorable occasion, I 
never heard him say; but McKendree could not be hid or found in the rear 
of any important enterprise. I never saw McKendree until May 4, 1800, at 
the Baltimore Conference, held at the Stone Chapel, about five miles from 
where I write. He preached to a crowded house, while Jesse Lee preached 
to a still greater crowd out of doors. His sermon showed plainly that he 
was "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." On the General Con- 
ference floor, on May 6, 1 first heard him exhibit his peculiar talent for de- 
bate; he certainly had a remarkable gift for analyzing and sifting a subject 
to the bottom. His clear, penetrating, far-seeing mind qualified him for 
this. After this, I never saw Bishop McKendree until October 21, 1802, 
when he appeared as our presiding elder in Kentucky. We needed at that 
time just such a man. We had then a Bush, a Wilkerson, a Kobler, a Sale, 
a Page, and other worthy men; but still just such a spirit as our McKendree 
was needed. He succeeded in bringing a firmer union between the local 
and traveling ministry, and more fully getting our preachers and people 
to profit by the great revival which had just commenced. His charge was 
heavy, his responsibility great; but he never shunned responsibility where 
the cause of God was concerned. Though naturally a man of keen sen- 
sibilities, if he saw a storm coming, could shut up his feelings, as he used 
to call it, and calmly and boldly meet every difficulty; and then his clear, 
comprehensive mind and sound judgment developed itself. Those who 
had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Mr. McKendree can never forget 
him, and the present as well as future generations should gratefully remem- 
ber his labors of love in the West. His administrations were judicious and 
wise and were crowned with success. I presume Mr. McKendree was then 
in the prime of his life and usefulness. In the pulpit he was original, his 
method and oratory entirely his own; nothing artificial about it; natural 
and fascinating. His voice, though not loud and thundering, could he 
heard in the open air by thousands. His preaching was often attended with 
a soul-searching, melting, subduing influence that bore down all before it. 
Christians were made to jump and shout, yes, more than shouting happy, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 329 

while sinners were cut to the heart. I saw and heard Bishop McKendree 
in his prime and shall never hear or look on such another. 

In the General Conference of 1808, he distinguished himself in favor of a 
delegated General Conference. I did not hear the sermon he preached in 
Light Street Church, in Baltimore, at this Conference, which Bishop 
Asbury said would make him a bishop. The records will show that he was 
elected to the episcopacy by an overwhelming majority. 

At the first delegated General Conference, May 1, 1812, Bishop McKen- 
dree drew up a plan of business to be brought before the Conference; but 
as it was a new thing, the aged Bishop Asbury rose to his feet immediately 
after the reading of the paper by the secretary, and addressed the junior 
bishop to the following effect: "I have something to say to you before 
the Conference." The junior bishop also rose to his feet, and they stood 
face to face. Bishop Asbury said: "This is a new thing. I never did 
business in this way, and why is it introduced? " The junior smiled, and 
promptly replied: "You are our father, and we are your sons; you never 
had need of it. But I am only a brother, and have need of it." The senior 
bishop said no more, but sat down with a smile on his countenance. The 
scene is now before my mind. 

The action of the General Conference, which met in Baltimore in 1820, 
relative to the presiding eldership question, greatly afflicted our worthy 
Bishop, the more so as his colleagues differed from him in opinion on the 
subject. I had several conversations with one of them on the subject; and 
so far as I could learn, they were both, so far as personally concerned, 
satisfied with the rules as they were, but thought it best to yield this point 
for peace's sake, for they feared a split in the Church. Bishop McKendree 
conscientiously believed that as an important principle was involved, 
the measure was an infringement of our constitution and fraught with 
mischief. All this bore heavily on his constitution, already broken by 
labor and care. I sympathized with him and became his traveling com- 
panion, as he wished to travel for his health and visit the Churches and 
families of his old friends. I knew the man in the vigor and tide of useful- 
ness, and I now saw him almost a wreck; but his concern for the Church 
and his zeal for the cause of God were not at all abated. 

On June 19, he left the house of his old friend, Dr. Henry Wilkins, and 
made a visit to Virginia, calling on many families, and preaching as often 
as he could. Upon our return to Baltimore, we called at a camp meeting 
on Frederick Circuit, where the Bishop preached, and was divinely aided. 
The sermon had a prodigious effect, for he rose above his weakness, and it 
reminded me of former days. That sermon is still remembered and spoken 
of by a few of the many who heard it, the most of whom have passed away. 

Very frequently we were on our way before daylight and stopped by the 
wayside to refresh ourselves with what we had brought with us, and in this 
he rebuked many of the present race of preachers. He tried to imitate his 
Master, "who went about doing good." 

I must here conclude by saying that I am sorry I can afford you so little 
aid. I should like to have a copy of your work, should I live to see it 

330 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

published. I am as well as I could expect to be, after passing through 
eighty-five winters. My general health is better than it was forty years 
ago, but weakness and the infirmities of age attend me; yet still "the 
Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." 

Respectfully and very affectionately, yours in the bonds of the gospel, 



The Rev. Lewis Garrett, Sr., who died in peace some years 
since in Canton, Miss., sent the author several communications, 
from which the following extracts are made. Lewis Garrett 
entered the itinerant ministry at the same time with Henry 
Smith, in 1794, and, like him, traveled with the Bishop, both in 
Virginia and the West. He was a preacher of unusual power and 
force of character. He was editor of the Western Methodist, pub- 
lished in Nashville, Tenn., and wrote an interesting little volume 
of "Biographical Sketches," chiefly of Western preachers. 

"In the autumn of 1795, 1 was called by Bishop Asbury to go 
from Holston to the Virginia Conference. On my way, at the 
house of a brother, I first saw Mr. McKendree. His plain and 
affable manner interested me. At the Conference he was ap- 
pointed .presiding elder of a district east of James River and 
placed in charge of Williamsburg Circuit. I was appointed to 
Orange Circuit, in that district. In 1797, he presided over the 
same district enlarged, and extending from Gloucester to Green- 
brier. In 1799, he presided over a district in the northern part 
of Virginia embracing Alexandria. In 1800, he was on his old 
district, and I on Gloucester Circuit. We met at the General 
Conference, in Baltimpre, May 1, 1800. The smallpox was very 
prevalent. I was inoculated ; he knew it. Late at night he came 
to my room. I had had a chill, was covered up, and had a high 
fever. He jerked off the cover and alarmed me, showing much 
concern for my safety. He was a kind friend. In the fall of 
1800, he was sent to Kentucky, where there was no presiding 
elder, and in 1801, presided over the whole Western country. 
Having lost my health in the lowlands of Virginia, I obtained 
leave to return to the West, and met him at the Western Con- 
ference, held at Earnest's, on Nolichucky, East Tennessee, 
October 1, 1801. He being appointed to the same district, and 
I to Lexington Circuit, Ky., we traveled together to Kentucky. 
This was an interesting journey to me, because I never met with 
a more agreeable traveling companion. Always prompt and 'at 
the time/ economical of time, and careful in prearrangement, a 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 331 

oiterer or one devoid of forecast would be left behind. He was 
also social and communicative. 

"William McKendree had no talent for getting up or carrying 
on a revival; and yet his discourses were animating and in- 
structive in a high degree. The great revival of 1800 had 
awakened inquiry. The dogmas of Calvin and Antinomian 
delusions had received a shock, and controversy was prevalent. 
Mr. McKendree was the man for the times. He was then ro- 
bust and of commanding personal appearance. I have seen him 
enchain for two hours the attention of large crowds with his 
ingenuous, argumentative, and animating sermons. Though 
modest and retiring, when duty called he was prompt and fear- 
less. In 1804 and 1805, 1 traveled Cumberland District, and he 
remained on the Kentucky District. In 1805, I located, and 
he succeeded me on the Cumberland District. We met again 
at the Western Conference, held at a camp meeting at Liberty 
Hill, October, 1808. He was then bishop. I love and respect 
his memory and desire to see his successors imitate him in zeal, 
purity, and usefulness." 


General Conference of 1828 at Pittsburgh Bishops' Address Sus- 
pended Resolutions lost "Wesleyan Repository" "Mutual Rights" 
McCane and others expelled Memorial Report upon it by Dr. 
Emory Dr. Thomas E. Bond and Dr. Emory defend the Church 
Canada question settled Action of the General Conference Infer- 
ences Dr. Capers elected delegate to the Wesleyan Methodist Con- 
ference Dr. Fisk Bishop McKendree's account of this Conference 
A crisis in the history of the Church The Bishop's Journal Travels 
back to Tennessee Attends quarterly and camp meetings in Kentucky 
and Tennessee His route to Georgia over Lookout Mountain 
Preached to an Indian Council Gets to Athens, Ga. At Asbury Hull's 
Sick Ordains Stephen Olin Sketch of him. 

WE have seen that Bishop McKendree had arrived at Pitts- 
burgh, Pa., a few days before the General Conference began its 
session there on May 1, 1828. One hundred and twenty-five 
delegates were present out of one hundred and seventy-seven 
elected, and all the five bishops were there McKendree, 
Roberts, George, Soule, and Hedding. The senior bishop 
opened the session, as he had done since the death of Bishop 
Asbury. Dr. Martin Ruter was elected Secretary, and the 
quadrennial Address of the Bishops was read and referred to the 
committees. It referred gratefully to the general prosperity of 
the Church and especially to the extensive revivals during the 
past three years, to the importance of sustaining the missionary 
work, the Sunday School and Tract Societies, and to the admin- 
istration of the government of the Church. The bishops re- 
gretted their failure of sending a delegate to the British Con- 
ference, asserting it had not been owing to any want of affection 
for their British brethren or of respect for the expressed will of 
the last General Conference; and, without stating the cause of 
this failure, they suggested that the Conference itself should 
select and send one. The General Conference of 1824 requested 
and directed the bishops to select and send a preacher as a repre- 
sentative from the American Methodists to the British Con- 
ference, and the senior bishop had endeavored to get all his 
colleagues together to make the selection. This was found diffi- 
cult to accomplish; but the principal impediment had been that 
three of them nominated Dr. William Capers, of South Caro- 
lina, for this mission, and an objection had been made on ac- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 333 

count of his connection with slavery; and so, after several in- 
effectual attempts, the matter was dropped, and the true reason 
was not stated. It also appears that Dr. Capers declined the 
nomination, giving as his reasons the responsibility of the 
office and his dread of crossing the ocean, as well as the time it 
would take him from his work and his family. 

Bishop McKendree, in common with many others, felt no 
little solicitude as to the course this General Conference would 
pursue in reference to several important measures. "The sus- 
pended resolutions," which were calculated to diminish very 
seriously the authority of the episcopacy in the appointment of 
the presiding elders and stationing the preachers, were expected 
to come up for final action; but the subject had been so generally 
discussed, and opposition to the measure had been so decidedly 
expressed by the Annual Conferences, that it was lost by an 
overwhelming vote. Indeed, many who at the last General Con- 
ference had been inclined to favor these resolutions, after they 
saw the violent spirit which its leading advocates exhibited 
and finding it was to be only the "entering wedge" of innova- 
tion, became alarmed and withdrew their names and influ- 
ence from the measure. 

Between 1824 and 1828, the spirit of innovation was strongly 
and dangerously exhibited in claiming the right of the laity to 
an equal representation with the traveling preachers in the 
Annual and General Conferences. A periodical styled the 
Wesleyan Repository, was started in Trenton, N. J., avowedly 
to agitate this subject, which soon became bitterly personal. 
The contributors were mostly anonymous, and the course pur- 
sued became so unpopular that its publication was discontinued. 
Shortly afterwards another originated in Baltimore, styled the 
Mutual Rights, advocating the same principles, which had the 
sanction and influence of a few traveling preachers and of 
several well-known local preachers, as well as a good many 
laymen. But, as in all such revolutionary associations, the more 
violent and factious spirits soon took the lead, drawing after 
them those not so fully imbued with their temper. It cul- 
minated in the expulsion of a notorious local preacher, Alexan- 
der McCane, who had published an outrageous attack upon the 
government of the Church, implicating and slandering its 
founder and fathers. Other expulsions and withdrawals fol- 
lowed. A society of "Associated Reformers" and "Union 
Societies" were formed, and a convention was held in Baltimore 
in 1827, constituted of preachers and laymen. Thus the line 

334 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

between the friends and foes of the episcopal form of our Church 
government was distinctly drawn; and, a memorial having been 
presented from this convention to the General Conference of 
1828, brought up the subject. Several members of the con- 
vention, who. had been honored and useful traveling ministers, 
attended the Conference who were invited to seats and re- 
ceived appointments to preach. 

The chairman of the committee to whom the memorial was 
referred, Dr. John Emory, brought in the report, which was 
read amid profound silence. It was such a document as few 
could write, exhibiting a thorough comprehension of the whole 
question, set forth in the simplest language and in the clearest 
and most convincing manner. The points were distinctly made 
and argued fairly, logically, and in a conciliatory spirit. 
The writer watched the countenances of the Rev. Asa Shinn 
and his confrere, the Rev. N. Snethen, who represented 
the convention, during the reading of this report, and thought 
then, as he does now, that they appreciated it and were con- 
vinced by its unanswerable arguments. But, alas! they had too 
far committed themselves. Dr. Bangs deserves the thanks of 
the whole Methodist Episcopal family for inserting it in full in 
his valuable "History of the Methodist Episcopal Church." 
The moment the reading of it was concluded, Mr. Shinn sprang 
to his feet and proposed that five thousand copies be printed. 
Of course the report was adopted by a vote nearly or quite unan- 
imous; and as it provided, upon reasonable terms, for the return 
to the bosom of the Church of those who had withdrawn, it was 
believed and hoped by many that this would end any further 
serious alienation; and, although this very desirable result was 
not fully realized, yet this action of the Conference greatly 
tended to check the disaffection and diminish the asperity of 
feeling which had unfortunately arisen. The "Appeal" to the 
Methodists in opposition to the changes proposed by the re- 
formers, by Dr. Thomas E. Bond, and the "Defense of our 
Fathers," by Dr. Emory, were timely and masterly vindica- 
tions of the polity of the Church and contributed much to the 
same end. May we not hope that now, after the lapse of more 
than forty years, when nearly all those who took part in this 
division have passed away with the prejudices and passions of 
the occasion, a reunion may take place? 

Bishop McKendree was a close observer of these acts of the 
General Conference, and when he found that these perplexing 
and dangerous questions had been adjusted with great unanim- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 335 

ity, he thanked God and took courage. He had suffered much 
anxiety and labored long for the great principles involved in 
these controversies, and when he saw them settled in accordance 
with his views, he felt reassured of the prosperity and perma- 
nency of his beloved Church. 

He also felt a good deal of solicitude as to another delicate and 
important question which came before the Conference. It was 
what is called "the Canada question." The case was simply 
this: When our preachers had extended their work to the north- 
ern limits of the United States, they were invited into Upper 
Canada. They went and formed circuits and stations and were 
requested to continue and extend their labors. The question 
came up whether the bishop had the right to appoint preachers 
to labor out of the limits of the United States, inasmuch as the 
Church only claimed to be "the Methodist Episcopal Church 
in the United States of America," and Bishop Asbury dis- 
claimed the authority to do so, and sent none but volunteers, 
with the understanding that it was done by agreement or com- 
pact between the Canadian brethren and our preachers. His 
successors took the same view and acted conformably to it. 
But after a while it was found that our preachers laboring there 
were subjected to great disabilities; they were regarded not as 
citizens, but foreigners, and could not celebrate the rites of 
matrimony even among the members of their own charges. 
Various other difficulties grew out of the position which our 
preachers and members occupied, and prejudices naturally 
sprung up to limit the usefulness of our ministers. Difficulties, 
too, occurred between our preachers and the English Methodist 
ministers. A petition from our people there, borne by a delega- 
tion from the Canada Conference, was presented to this General 
Conference, stating these and other facts, and asking to be set 
off as an independent body, and the ordination of a bishop for 
their work. A committee was appointed to consider and report 
upon the request. Dr. Emory and others, including the writer, 
were placed upon the committee, and reported in substance 
that, as our relation to the Canadian brethren was founded upon 
a compact, and not upon our right to organize and govern a 
Church in Canada; and inasmuch as one of the parties to the 
agreement now asked that the compact be dissolved, the Gen- 
eral Conference should agree to its dissolution, and consent 
that the Canada Conference organize and elect its own bishop. 
And further, that our bishops, or any one of them, be author- 

336 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

ized to ordain a bishop for Canada whenever one shall be elected 
and presented for this purpose. 

The following extracts from the Journal of the General Con- 
ference show the action of the body upon this subject: 


MAY 17, 1828, William Ryerson offered the following resolutions, viz: 
Whereas, The Canada Annual Conference, situated in the province of 
Upper Canada, under a foreign government, have, in their memorial, 
presented to this Conference the difficulties under which they labor in 
consequence of their union with a foreign ecclesiastical government and 
setting forth their desire to be set off as a separate Church establish- 
ment; and whereas, this General Conference disclaims all right to exercise 
ecclesiastical .jurisdiction under such circumstances except by mutual 
agreement; therefore, 

Resolved by the delegates of the Annual Conferences in General Conference 

1. That the compact existing between the Canada Annual Conference 
and the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States be, and hereby 
is, dissolved by mutual consent, and that they are at liberty to form them- 
selves into a separate Church establishment. 

2. That our superintendents or superintendent be, and hereby are, re- 
spectively advised and requested to ordain such person as may be elected by 
the Canada Conference a superintendent for the Canada connection. 

3. That we do hereby recommend to our brethren in Canada to adopt 
the form of government of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United 
States, with such modifications as their particular relations shall render 

4. That we do hereby express to our Canada brethren our sincere desire 
that the most friendly feeling may exist between them and the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in the United States. 

5. That the claims of the Canada Conference on our Book Concern and 
Charter Fund, and any other claims they may suppose they justly have 
shall be left open for future negotiation and adjustment between the two 
Connections. G. R. JONES, 


The question on the first resolution was decided in the affirmative, 104 
for and 43 aganist it. 

The other four resolutions were, on motion, referred to a special com- 
mittee, to consist of five members. 

May 21, it was, on motion, resolved, that the subject of the petition 
from the Canada Conference be resumed; whereupon the resolutions, as 
reported by the last committee appointed on that subject, were read. 

It was then resolved that the subject shall now be considered and acted 

Samuel H. Thompson moved, and it was seconded, that the resolution, 
as reported by the committee, be adopted. The question being taken, it 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 337 

was decided in the affirmation, 108 voting in favor of adoption and 22 
against it. 

N. Bangs moved, and it was seconded, that the following be referred 
to the consideration of the same committee: 

That, if the Canada Conference should be set off so as to become inde- 
pendent of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, the 
General Conference be recommended to make such alteration in the Con- 
stitution of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church as 
shall authorize the Board of Managers to make an appropriation, to a 
certain amount, of the funds of that institution for the support of the 
Indian missions in Upper Canada. And the motion prevailed. 

The principle involved in this decision is truly an important 

The following conclusions seem to follow from the action of 
the Conference in the premises and the opinions expressed by 
leading members of the body: 

1. That the Church cannot rightfully claim ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction beyond her territorial limits, except by consent of 

2. That therefore she has not the right to ordain a man for an 
independent or foreign Church. 

3. That the General Conference can authorize its bishops to 
ordain a man for an independent or foreign Church after he 
shall have been selected and presented by that Church with the 
understanding that his functions are to be limited to that 

4. That to "set off" a Conference as an independent Church, 
and within its territorial jurisdiction without the consent of the 
laity as well as the preachers, would be an unjust and dangerous 
precedent, except, perchance, for moral cause, such as heresy, 
defection of morals and practice after proper efforts to reclaim 

5. That it is competent to ordain and supervise men as mis- 
sionaries in any country, and to continue to do so even after the 
missions shall have been organized into Conferences, so long as 
it may be done by mutual consent, the absolute right to do so 
being another question. 

The writer does not say that these opinions were announced 
ipsissimis verbis, by the bishops, Dr. Emory, Dr. Bangs, and 
others; but he lays them down as his own deductions from what 
was said and done, and is persuaded that they harmonized in 
the main with the sentiments of the bishops and Conference. He 
doubts not they did with Bishop McKendree's. It will be seen 
that these views fully apply to a Church which, by its assumed 

338 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

and legal title, is limited to a specified territory, as "in the 
United States of America." The expediency of omitting such a 
limitation, and to what extent, if any, such a change of title 
would modify the deductions stated above may be subjects of 

The Church of England has authority coextensive with the 
dominions of the crown, because it is "by law established;" but 
it required the consent of George III and an act of Parliament to 
authorize her bishops to consecrate Bishop White for America, 
and then his functions were expressly inhibited as to the posses- 
sions of Great Birtian. As yet our country is free from a legal- 
ized ecclesiastical hierarchy. May it ever remain so! 

The bishops having failed to comply with the request of the 
last General Conference to select and appoint a delegate to the 
Wesleyan Methodist body in England and having invited the 
Conference to make a selection and carry out this purpose, the 
Conference proceeded to elect one, and the Rev. W. Capers was 
chosen. Dr. Capers was then in the prime of life. His personnel 
washandsome and impressive, his literary and theological attain- 
ments, his refined and dignified manners, and his well-known 
abilities and earnest devotion to God and his Church conspired 
to render him well adapted to this responsible office and vindi- 
cated his previous nomination by Bishops McKendree and 
Soule. 1 

Dr. Wilbur Fisk, who received the next highest vote, was con- 
siderably his junior, and consequently less known. He first 
came conspicuously into notice at this General Conference, and 
soon attained a very high and deserved reputation as president 
of the Wesleyan University, a scholarly and able divine, as well 
as a lovely and liberal-hearted man. His reputation was based 
upon talents of a very high order, and he was among the few 
who could rise above early impressions and prevalent prejudices 
and take an enlarged and independent view, with moral courage 
to act upon it. Methodism suffered a great loss in his early 
death. But more of him hereafter. 

The fifth session of the delegated General Conference closed 
on May 24, 1828. It was a session remarkable for its general 
harmony, its rapid dispatch of business, and for the final settle- 
ment of several important questions which had long and deeply 
agitated the Church. No new member was added to the Episco- 
pal College, and it was thought it was not necessary and there- 
tore would be improper. 

l Bishop Roberts agreed to hia nomination when it was first made. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 339 

The following brief account of this session is all that the 
Bishop says about it: 

" On May 1,1828, the General Conference was organized. The 
appearance and spirit of the members savored more of simple- 
hearted Christians than of determined controvertists. The 
suspended resolutions were taken up and the vote taken without 
debate. They were voted out in a peaceable manner. The 
memorial from the local convention was treated in a formal and 
respectful manner; upon examination, it was found the advo- 
cates for changes in the government were very few, not more, 
perhaps, than one in a hundred, if that. They were treated with 
lenity and tenderness. From the conduct of their representa- 
tives who were present, it was hoped the breach would be healed; 
but it turned out otherwise, and time must declare the ultimate 
result. These eventful cases having been disposed of, the Con- 
ference concluded in peace. A few subjects of interesting im- 
portance were introduced, but concluded peaceably." 

The General Conference of 1828 marked a historical crisis in 
the Church, and the preachers and members, who truly loved 
its old landmarks, felt like those in a vessel long buffeted by 
stormy winds and threatening waves upon a dangerous coast at 
last emerging into calm and open waters and gliding smoothly 
and safely beneath a sky serene under a gentle and favorable 
breeze. Thus, it seemed, our ecclesiastical ship had weathered 
the tempest without serious damage to hull or sail and the glad 
passengers looked back with gratitude and forward with hope. 

The Bishop's narrative proceeds: 

"From Pittsburgh I came in a steamboat with many preach- 
ers to Maysville. With their help I formed a plan to visit the 
Churches as far as Missouri this summer, and return with the 
Conferences in the fall; but upon further consultation, they 
judged it altogether inexpedient, if not impracticable, for me to 
accomplish the undertaking. It was therefore given up. Broth- 
er Tydings conducted me to Lexington, Ky. I attended the 
quarterly meeting at Frankfort, and the Kentucky Confer- 
ence in Shelbyville, October 23, 1828; then a three days' meet- 
ing on my way to Elizabethtown, where Brother Crist met me. 
Hitherto I have had the company and help of friends; have 
preached considerably and hope good has been done. We at- 
tended a meeting at Bowling Green, at Fountain Head, a camp 
meeting at Carr's, Goose Creek, and another at Woodward's. 
After this, Crist was taken with the fever, and declined going 
farther. My nephew. John McKendree, left his business and 

340 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

came to me at Smyrna camp meeting. I was at a camp meeting 
at Douglass's, one near Murfreesboro, a quarterly meeting in 
Nashville, and another camp meeting near Shelbyville. Thence 
I set out for Georgia, crossed the Tennessee River safely, and 
reached the foot of Lookout Mountain; but having arrived there 
sooner than my friends, who were to meet me, expected, I 
placed my nephew at the wheels to scotch the carriage, and 
undertook to drive it myself. It was hard work for man and 
beast, and in some places dangerous. Indeed, the undertaking 
was objected to as dangerous and impracticable by travelers; 
but we surmounted the difficulties without any serious injury. 
After resting a while, we began to descend the mountain, and met 
Brothers Goody and Scales, with a black man and a yoke of 
oxen, coming to take us up the mountain, having been informed 
by a traveler we were on the way. We rested at Brother Ross's 
on Friday, saw and conversed with the missionaries from Brain- 
ard, about fifty miles distant, and preached on Sunday to a 
small congregation of Cherokees; hope our labor was not in 
vain. In the evening we rode home with Brother Scales, a mis- 
sionary from the Tennessee Conference. Mr. Ross and an old 
Indian were moved under preaching, for the first time, as their 
acquaintances said. Tuesday Brother Scales set out with us 
for the place where the chiefs of the Nation were assembled in 
grand council. We visited an afflicted native woman on the 
way, and from the manner we were received I hope she will 
make a happy end. We lodged at the house of the Widow 
Hicks, a disciple of the Moravian missionary. Next day we 
arrived at the 'Indian National Council;' preached to them 
Thursday night; on Friday, went to the missionary station and 
camp ground and preached to a large congregation. Saturday, 

rode to Mr. , and established a school. Here Brother 

Gunter, the interpreter, and Turtle Fields, the Indian traveling 
preacher, met us. Sunday, we preached in the schoolhouse to 
a considerable number of people. Gunter returned to the Coun- 
cil, and Turtle Fields went with us to Mr. , where we lodged 

that night, and accompanied us next day to Mr. Betts's, on the 
Georgia Road. In the evening the neighbors were collected, 
and we held meeting. Tuesday, we left our friends and set out 
for Georgia in company with a man, his wife, and son, in a 
carriage, who were returning from a visit to their friends in 
the West to their home near Athens, Ga. They had a tea- 
kettle and a coffeepot, and we, as well as they, had provi- 
sions; so we fared pretty well. Through the day we were at 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 341 

home in our carriages and at night in taverns. We were ever 
received and treated kindly in the Indian Nation. In Athens, 
Ga., we put up with Brother Asbury Hull and preached there 
the last Sunday in October, 1828; and the first Sunday in No- 
vember preached at the Cherokee Corner, at Lexington; at- 
tended a three days' meeting at Greensboro, and on Monday a 
brother kindly took me in his carriage to Eatonton. I was un- 
well. Doctors visited me in the evening and took a pint of 
blood; two hours afterwards returned, opened the same orifice, 
and took another pint. Tuesday, I was feeble. Wednesday, I 
must needs be taken in a carriage to the meetinghouse, to be 
seen at least. There was a congregation, and I commenced 
speaking, forgot myself and preached an hour, a feeling time. 
Thursday, I rode to Brother H.'s. Next day it rained; rode in 
company with Brother Hodges, to a quarterly meeting at War- 
ren; preached twice. Thence I went to Milledgeville, put up 
with Brother Hodges; preached and visited considerably; or- 
dained Brother Olin. Next went to Sparta; preached; Powel- 
ton; preached; preached at Washington; crossed Broad River; 
passed through Petersburg to Brother Rembert's, where I 
rested a day or two. In the fork of Broad and Savannah Rivers 
there is a considerable space without preaching. The land be- 
longs to rich men. There are few whites, but many colored peo- 
ple. The gentlemen engaged to support a single preacher, if 
one could be spared. From Rembert's we crossed the Savannah 
at his ferry, his carriage and family going with us about eight 
miles to a meetinghouse, where I preached, ordained a brother, 

and lodged with Brother . Next day I traveled, and 

preached in town; stayed all night. Thence to Mount 

Ariel ; rested Saturday, preached Sunday. Recrossed the Savan- 
nah and proceeded on to Augusta, Ga. ; attended their quarterly 
meeting. Stayed over the second Sunday, including Christmas; 
preached and visited considerably. Left Augusta December 
27; Saturday, got to Brother Wade's. Here Brother Hill met 
us and continued to Conference. Sunday I preached to a large 
congregation; an impressive time." 

Among the names mentioned in the above extract of the 
Bishop's Journal which deserve more than a passing notice is 
that of one who attained a high and well-merited reputation for 
extraordinary talents, ability as a preacher, ripe scholarship, 
and usefulness as an educator. The Bishop notes the fact that 
at Milledgeville, Ga., November 20, 1828, he "ordained Brother 
Olin/' This was the Rev. Stephen Olin, at that time and for six 

342 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

years subsequently professor of ethics and belles-lettres in Frank- 
lin College, Athens, Ga. 

Dr. Olin was a native of Vermont, born 1797; graduated at 
Middlebury College, 1820, with constitution shattered and 
ruined by excessive study in his senior year; went to South 
Carolina for his health; taught an academy in Abbeville District 
Mount Ariel, now Cokesbury; was converted; became a 
Methodist preacher in 1822. In 1823, he was appointed pro- 
fessor in Middlebury College, but declined it because he would 
not become a Congregationalist. In 1824 he was admitted 
into the South Carolina Conference and stationed in Charles- 
ton; but after six months' efficient labor his health failed, and 
he was never afterwards able to perform the duties of the pas- 
torate in the regular ministry. In 1826, he was elected profes- 
sor of ethics and belles-lettres in Franklin College, Athens, Ga. 
i. e., the University of Georgia. In 1828, he married Miss 
Mary Ann Bostick, of Milledgeville. In 1833, he resigned his 
professorship at Franklin College, and in 1834 entered upon 
the duties of the presidency of Randloph-Macon College, Vir- 
ginia, with L. C. Garland, Edward D. Sims, and Professor Dun- 
can as associates in the faculty. His health failing, he sailed for 
Havre in 1837, and traveled extensively through Europe, 
Egypt, and the Holy Land. He lost his wife at Naples, in 1839. 
In 1840, he returned to the United States, and succeeded Dr. 
Fisk as President of Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn. 
In 1846, he attended the meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, 
in London, and in 1851, closed his useful and eventful life by 
a calm and triumphant death. 

Dr Olin was gigantic in stature, mind, and heart; a great 
sufferer from nervous prostration; a profound thinker, a clear 
and elegant writer, and unsurpassed as a preacher. It is doubt- 
ful whether Methodism in America has ever produced a greater 
mind. He was a delegate to the General Conference of 1844, 
when the separation of the Church occurred and expressed the 
conviction that it was inevitable, under the circumstances; 
and perhaps few members of that body deplored the necessity 
more truly and deeply than did he. Indeed, such was his men- 
tal agony on that occasion that he was compelled to leave the 
General Conference before it closed. He was one of the few 
truly great and good men with whom it has been permitted us to 
become acquainted. We thought then he should have imitated 
the example of Bishop Soule in vindicating his claim to the 
highest moral courage; but he did not think so ; and we have 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 343 

long since concluded to let him judge for himself and to love and 
respect most highly his precious memory. 

When, in 1834, he became president of Randolph-Macon 
College, Virginia, he was associated in the faculty with Langdon 
C. Garland, Edward Drumgoole Sims, and Professor Duncan 
each of them singularly adapted to the responsible task of in- 
structing and training his charge to the highest intellectural and 
moral standard of education. Professor Garland succeeded Dr. 
Olin as president of Randolph-Macon College, and afterwards 
became president of the University of Alabama, and, upon the 
destruction by fire of its buildings by Federal soldiers during 
the late war, accepted the professorship of physics and astrono- 
my in the University of Mississippi, at Oxford, which he now 
occupies; in all of which places and positions he has deservedly 
gained the highest esteem as a profound scholar and superior 
instructor, as well as an earnest and working layman of the 
Church. The Rev. Edward D. Sims was for several years the 
intimate and beloved friend of the writer and his associate in 
the faculty of Lagrange College then for some time a student 
in the universities of Germany. Upon his return to the United 
States, he became a professor in Randolph-Macon College, and 
afterwards in the University of Alabama, where he suddenly 
closed his life, regretted and respected by all who knew him as 
a man of rare purity, learning, and amiability. Professor Dun- 
can, the veteran professor of ancient languages, has left his im- 
press upon hundreds as a thorough and successful teacher of 
ancient Greek and Roman literature, and bequeathed to the re- 
juvenated college a son who worthily fills the position once held 
by Dr. Olin. 


McKendree at Augusta Savannah Preaches to whites and blacks 
Conference at Charleston Bishop Roberts absent Not able to preside 
Returns to Lynchburg to the Virginia Conference To the Baltimore 
and Philadelphia Conferences Thence through Pennsylvania, Ohio, 
and Kentucky to Tennessee Douglass's Camp Meeting His voice 
Conversion of a mute Bishop George's Death Sketch The Bishop's 
homes at Nashville, J. T. Elliston's and H. R. W. Hill's Down the 
Mississippi River The Colonel His Plan Liberia. 

WE resume the Bishop's Journal: 

"Thursday, January 1,1829. Preached to a number of the 
colored people, in presence of the whole family, in an apartment 
of the dwelling house. The Lord was present. 

"January 2. We rose early to start for Savannah and were 
called to prayer and breakfast by candlelight, but I was taken so 
sick I was obliged to lie down. I lay until 8 A.M., and set out 
without eating anything. Brother Wade took me fifteen miles 
in a remarkably easy carriage. We accomplished our journey of 
thirty-odd miles before sunset and reached Savannah next day. 
Here we stayed and preached two Sabbaths; through the week 
visited the brethren, met the society, and received visits. The 
Presbyterians seem disposed to be friendly with us. Next week 
we left Savannah. Brother Hill accompanied us, by the Sisters' 
Ferry, through the Black Swamp Circuit, to Brother Lowery's. 
In addition to his own, he manages an estate of a wealthy planter 
who invites preaching among his colored people. There are sev- 
eral such men in this neighborhood. They wish their slaves to 
be instructed in the Christian religion. On Sunday we preached 
to a large congregation of white and colored people. Brother 
Hill gave them a night meeting. It is hoped our visit is not in 
vain. The way is opening to have the gospel preached to the 

"We arrived safely in Charleston on the twentieth and found 
the preachers, their families, and our brethren in health. We 
now had a few days to rest and to visit the societies and friends. 
This is an agreeable and profitable part of a minister's duty. 

"Bishop Roberts was to have attended the Conference; we 
waited in expectation. On January 28, the Conference began 
according to appointment ; Bishop Roberts not arrived . ' ' After- 
wards he adds: "He did not come at all." 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 345 

In reference to this Conference and his ability to preside, he 

"Being the only bishop present, the business necessarily de- 
volved on me. Having received no information from either of 
my colleagues as to their absence, it seemed providential that I 
had come. I commenced with considerable confidence in my 
ability to perform the duties, but the experience of the first day 
convinced me of my utter inability to bear the labors of my 

This no doubt greatly mortified him, as it evinced that his 
days of extensive travel and active usefulness were nearly over. 
No one who has not been thus tried knows the feeling of sadness 
incident to such a state. No man ever felt more acutely this 
sensation than the good old Bishop. But he was not the man to 
succumb and soon resumed his course. Quitting Charleston, he 
goes through Georgetown, Fayetteville, Raleigh attending the 
North Carolina Conference thence to Petersburg, Richmond, 
and Lynchburg. Here he meets the Virginia Conference. 
Thence he goes back to Richmond, and proceeds to Ports- 
mouth and Norfolk, and from thence to Baltimore on March 14, 
1829. And after attending the Baltimore Conference, he goes 
through Philadelphia, to Trenton, N. J., and there attends the 
Philadelphia Conference. Back again he travels to Baltimore, 
and goes thence to Washington City, Hagerstown, Sharpsburg, 
and Uniontown, making one hundred and thirty miles in four 
days, to Barnesville, Ohio, July 25. And after attending the 
Ohio Conference at Urbana, and the Kentucky Conference at 
Lexington, he gets back to Nashville, Tenn., and spends the 
winter of 1829-30 there. 

The Bishop confessed that the anxiety and labors of the Gen- 
eral Conference fatigued him, and that his health was not so 
good at its close; and yet we have followed him through an un- 
ceasing tour of several thousand miles, everywhere preaching 
and trying in every possible way to do good. His power of 
endurance and his moral courage were wonderful. 

The Bishop alludes to his having been at a number of quarter- 
ly and camp meetings during the summer and fall of 1828 in 
Tennessee. Several of them were in the Nashville District, of 
which the writer was then the presiding elder. At Douglass's 
Camp Meeting there was an immense concourse, and the Bishop 
preached for me at eleven o'clock, September 7, to at least six 
thousand people; and, although his voice seemed feeble, yet 
was it so distinct and penetrating and so perfectly silent was the 

346 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

vast crowd that after the first five minutes he could he heard by 
all. In order to regulate his voice properly, he requested me to 
take my position near the outskirts of the assembly, and, by 
signals, let him know whether he could be heard; and after he 
understood that he spoke loud enough, he continued in the same 
key to the close. He was in his proper element and preached 
with great logical clearness and spiritual power. 

The lesson was a valuable one to public speakers, teaching 
that the distance at which the voice can be distinctly heard de- 
pends not so much upon the volume of sound as upon distinct- 
ness of articulation. Preachers often bring on a premature ruin 
of voice and health by not practicing upon this lesson, and some 
of them commit a species of suicide. If Bishop McKendree had 
not learned this lesson, his usefulness, and perhaps his life, 
would have terminated twenty years before he died. 

An incident occurred at this camp meeting which interested 
him greatly. While he was preaching the sermon alluded to, 
there were sitting immediately before him and near the pulpit 
an intelligent and worthy family by the name of Tullis. The 
father and mother were members of the Church, but one of the 
daughters was deaf and dumb. The family being in good cir- 
cumstances, she had enjoyed all the advantages of education 
possible; had a sprightly mind and a fine person, but she was not 
pious. Her attention was soon riveted on the venerable preach- 
er, and she seemed to understand his speaking face and signifi- 
cant gestures. She became absorbed in thought and bathed in 
tears, and when mourners were invited she arose and knelt. 
The Bishop, with her parents and friends, gathered around her 
and offered prayers for her conversion, and after an apparently 
severe mental struggle, in which penitence and prayer were clear- 
ly indicated by her tears, her countenance, and her actions, she 
suddenly arose, and, with a face radiant with joy, embraced her 
parents and the venerable preacher. She was converted. 

Nor is this the only instance of the kind the writer has known. 

The Bishop attended several, other camp and quarterly meet- 
ings within the Nashville District during this year, at all of 
which, as well as at the writer's own home, he enjoyed the 
pleasure of his society; and he can never cease to feel toward 
him and Thomas L. Douglass, his father in the gospel, the pro- 
foundest respect and love. 

The death of Bishop George occurred in this year. He was 
born in Lancaster County, Va., 1767 or 1768; became a traveling 
preacher in 1790; was ordained bishop in 1816, and died August 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 347 

23, 1828, at Staunton, Va. Having traveled two or three years 
in the Virginia Conference, at the call of Bishop Asbury for 
volunteers for South Carolina he went there and labored in 
that State and Georgia four or five years. Finding his health 
much impaired by incessant labor and the sickliness of the 
climate, he returned to Virginia and located, believing he could 
not render efficient service and feeling unwilling to become a 
burden on the Conference. Thus thrown out into the world 
sick, poor, and incapacitated for ordinary worldly business by his 
past exclusive devotion to his vocation, he "resorted again to 
his old alternative, school keeping." Having despaired of being 
able to continue in the itinerant ministry, he married a lady of 
"piety, industry, sympathy, and sincere affection," who died in 
1816, leaving four children, one of them only a few weeks 
old. He never married again. The field of his labors as a bishop 
required him to travel into Canada and through the United 
States, and during the twelve years of his episcopate he faith- 
fully attempted to perform all his arduous duties. 

Parting with Bishop Hedding at the close of the New York 
Conference, he started for Jonesboro, Tenn., to hold the Holston 
Conference; and, having been taken violently ill of dysentery at 
Staunton, Va., after a few days of great suffering he breathed 
his last. He died not only resigned, but willingly and joyously, 
exclaiming: "Glory to God!" 

As a Christian, he was devout and holy; a man of much prayer 
and strong religious feelings; as a preacher, he excelled in 
pathos. He preached "in the demonstration of the Spirit and 
with power. " What he felt deeply he spoke with great simplic- 
ity and sensibility. Having heard him repeatedly, the writer 
can attest that he never heard anyone who surpassed him as a 
pathetic preacher. At our first visit to a Conference in 1817, 
held in Franklin, Tenn., he and Bishop Roberts attended, and 
he preached at eleven o'clock on Sunday, in the Methodist 
Church. His text was 1 John v. 4, "This is the victory," etc.; 
and he had scarcely got through his exordium before he and all 
his hearers were in tears. It was indeed a "pathetic, powerful, 
and usefu)" sermon. His appearance, voice, and manner, as 
well as his matter, conspired to excite and overpower the audi- 
ence. He was a weeping prophet. He wept, and everybody 
caught the spirit of the preacher. His way of removing the 
tears which blinded his small and deeply seated eyes, by run- 
ning his finger behind his spectacles and uttering in soft and 
subdued tones, "Glory!" was peculiar and impressive. He was 

348 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

low of stature, with a broad chest, a short neck, large head, 
long, flowing hair turned back; his face broad and short; his 
eyes twinkling like diamonds beneath an expansive forehead 
and heavy, overhanging brow. 

In private, as in public, he avoided ostentation, and was 
simple and affectionate in private intercourse. He detested an 
assumed dignity, and won the respect and love of all with whom 
he had intercourse by his urbanity and unstudied dignity. He 
was not a learned man; and his early literary opportunities had 
most probably been confined to "the old-field schools" of 
Virginia; but he had traveled much, mingled in the best so- 
ciety among our people in Virginia and Maryland, and spoke 
correctly and fluently. He had no fondness for office or noto- 
riety, but was humble and strictly conscientious. 

As a bishop, while he loved the Church and strove to do his 
whole duty, yet his want of method and inattention to the rules 
of order occasionally involved himself and the Conference in 
confusion. He wanted the administrative talent of the senior 
bishop. The latter had an analytical and remarkably logical 
cast of mind. His office was to instruct and to legislate and to 
govern. The former, endowned with stronger feeling and more 
sympathy, carried by storm the citadel of the heart. They were 
both rare men, but differed in the spheres in which they moved 
and shone. McKendree, like Asbury, could read character, 
foresee the results of movements, and adopt means to frustrate 
or advance them with remarkable astuteness and success. 
George, not so prescient nor such a tactician, and more timid, 
was easily affected by his views of the apparent and present. 
Both were equally honest, and worked for the same ends. Bish- 
op McKendree could have made a prime minister, or the king of 
a nation, and would have made it greater and happier. Bishop 
George was adapted to the rostrum of a popular assembly and 
might have been a leader in a time of excitement. But they 
were holy men and Christ's ministers; and therefore, while Mc- 
Kendree assisted to make a great Church out of a little one by 
his administrative ability, George contributed to the same end 
by his impassioned pulpit eloquence. Bishop McKendree's 
throne was the chair in Conference and council; Bishop George's 
throne was the pulpit. McKendree taught, George moved his 
audience. Both excelled in their spheres; both were necessary, 
and God gave both to the Church. 

It is worthy of note here that each of these bishops was awak- 
ened and converted under the preaching of that great revivalist, 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 349 

John Easter, and were inducted into the ministry by Philip Cox. 
How many others became preachers and members of the Church 
through the labors of Mr. Easter eternity alone will reveal. Let 
Methodists, and expecially Methodist preachers, beware how 
they depreciate revivals; for if, in our pride of higher intellec- 
tual attainments and our boast of colleges and universities, our 
graduates and doctors of divinity, we undervalue and speak of 
them as merely sensational and of transient influence, may not 
God curse us with spiritual barrenness and leave us like pot- 
sherds to strive with potsherds without the aid of the Holy 

During the winter of 1829-30, Bishop McKendree passed the 
greater part of his time in Nashville and its immediate vicinity. 
The residences of H. R. W. Hill and J. T. Elliston, where he had 
homes and where every comfort and kindness which in his 
debility and sickness he could need, were his principal places of 

Both of these gentlemen deserve a passing notice. Mr. Hill 
was converted at Conference in Franklin, Tenn., in 1817. His 
mother was a devout Methodist of the old Virginia type; and, 
at the time of his conversion, he was a clerk in a store. His 
business capacity was remarkable, and he accumulated a fortune 
by merchandising in Nashville and as a commission merchant 
in New Orleans. A crisis in monetary matters occurring, his 
house in New Orleans failed to the amount of about three mil- 
lions of dollars, owing to his having entered into acceptances 
for planters who did not meet their engagements. Upon his 
return to his family shortly after his failure, he said to the writ- 
er: "I have lost everything, and am in debt three millions; all 
is gone except my character and what I have given away." He 
lived, however, to pay his debts, and died a wealthy man; but, 
notwithstanding his liberality, his cares injured his piety. He 
never stinted his benevolence. Not only did he afford Bishop 
McKendree a home, but when Bishop Soule came to the South, 
he gave him a comfortable house and valuable little farm near 
Franklin, worth from three to five thousand dollars. He liber- 
ally assisted in erecting an excellent house in Nashville for the 
occupancy of a bishop, known still as the Bishop's house, in 
which Bishop Soule resided awhile and where a worthy col- 
league now lives. In New Orleans he was equally generous, 
having, under the leadership of that princely layman, Hon. 
Edmund McGehee, of Woodville, Miss., given ten thousand 

350 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

dollars at one time toward the erection of the McGehee 

His wife was a sincere Christian lady, plain and devout. Both 
have passed from earth. 

Joseph T. Elliston was also a man of fine business talent, and 
by foresight, tact, and economy amassed a fortune, but never 
speculated or sought wealth by hazardous means. He was a 
plain, unpretending man, of great prudence and common sense; 
happy in his domestic and social relations, and always at work 
as trustee or steward for the benefit of the Church. He was 
the person to whom, principally, is due the honor of erecting 
the McKendree Church in Nashville, as well as the parsonage 
and Bishop's house. 

His excellent wife was in every respect a worthy helpmeet 
to her devoted and noble-hearted husband. They, too, have 
gone to rest. 

Is it not fit that an old friend, who has often enjoyed the hos- 
pitality of these laymen, should chronicle their names in con- 
nection with the life of one who so often enjoyed their hospi- 
tality? For, although not preachers, they were truly their 
friends and comforters. And may we not trust that He who 
rewards "a cup of water" given to a disciple will not fail to 
reward those who give them food and shelter, and, like minis- 
tering angels, watch over them in age and affliction? Without 
such friends, what must have been the fate of many an old and 
feeble man whose youth and strength have been spent in 
preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ ! Such deserve to be 
classed with the house of Stephanas, who "addicted themselves 
to the ministry of the saints." 

In their quadrennial address to the late General Conference, 
the bishops made no suggestion as to the necessity of increasing 
their number; but in reply to an inquiry made by the committee, 
through S. G. Roszel, as to the propriety and necessity of doing 
so, they said that if any more Conferences should be made, it 
would certainly be necessary to strengthen the episcopacy; 
whether it was necessary to elect any more unless this should be 
done, the Conference could judge. The four efficient superin- 
tendents had evidently enough to do. The death of Bishop 
George had reduced them to three, and consequently their 
tasks were onerous. To contribute what he could to assist his 
colleagues, Bishop McKendree resolved to visit the societies 
and to attend as many Conferences as his health would allow. 

In conformity with this purpose, he resolved to go South 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 351 

during the winter, and embarked on a steamboat at Nashville. 
From a letter to J. B. Finley, dated January 29, 1830, we learn 
that he was then "on the steamboat Nashville, at the mouth 
of the Cumberland River, to visit the Churches as low down as 
New Orleans, and as extensively as possible;" that he expected 
to return in March; and that as soon as the roads would allow, 
and he could procure suitable assistance, he would visit the 
Churches in the West; that he had written to his old friend, 
Abbott Godard, to induce him to go with him to Illinois upon 
a visit to his old friends, and he concluded it by sending his love 
to Brother Spencer, Brother Smith's family, his Newport friends, 
and especially to his beloved Brother Holliday. It appears that 
he stopped at Natchez, with Dr. Henry Tooley, and spent some 
time there, preaching and paying pastoral visits and enjoying 
the company of W. Winans, B. M. Drake, Thomas Clinton, B. 
Pipkin, and other valued and beloved friends. The greater part 
of his time was spent in New Orleans, where the necessities of 
the Church required his influence and counsels. He also paid 
a visit to Bayou Sara, and to Woodville, Miss., where, in the 
family of his greatly respected friend and brother, Judge Edward 
McGehee, he was always a most welcome and honored guest. 
Thus passed away the winter. 

Upon this steamboat trip to New Orleans, he had the com- 
pany of A. L. P. Green, then associated with James Gwin in the 
Nashville Station. The well-known genial temper and social 
qualities of Brother Green rendered him always a most de- 
sirable companion to the Bishop. He had a high esteem and 
reverential affection for Bishop McKendree, and to the close of 
the good man's life was his attentive, tender, and trusted friend. 
It was on this trip to New Orleans that the incidents occurred 
which are narrated in Dr. Green's admirable sketch of the Bishop 
in the "Biographical Sketches of Itinerant Ministers," edited 
by Dr. Summers, in 1858. I hope I may be pardoned for making 
the following extracts from this work, which ought to be circu- 
lated throughout the whole Methodist community. Dr. Green 

I think, in the year 1830, while descending the Mississippi on a large 
steamer crowded with passengers, the weather being cold, we were com- 
pelled to live in close community about the stove. The company was a 
mixed one old and young, ladies and gentlemen so that various sub- 
jects of conversation were up. from time to time, until an old lawyer and 
politician, who no doubt mistook the Bishop's character in part (thinking 
fhat the Church had made him bishop on account of his goodness and 

352 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

lamblike nature, never once supposing there was any of the lion in him), 
concluded, no doubt, that he would make some capital by a controversy 
with him on Church government. A greater mistake no poor man ever 
made, for the Bishop would have been his equal on any subject; and upon 
Church government he was too strong for anyone, for he had given to that 
subject extraordinary attention. Having been a little troubled in that 
direction in his youth, he had threshed, fanned, and sifted it with his 
powerful intellect for years, until there was not a comma, a crossed t or a 
dotted t in the whole empire of Church government which he did not have 
by heart and at his fingers' ends. The old colonel commenced by saying to 
the Bishop that he differed from him on Church government, to which the 
Bishop answered: " So, so." The colonel, finding he had not got the Bishop 
to his liking, said next that he thought the bishops of the Methodist Church 
had too much power. The Bishop answered by saying that he wished he 
had more power than he had, that he once had power enough to travel 
around this continent in a year, but now he had hardly power enough to 
walk. This produced a laugh around the circle, which was anything but 
comfortable to the colonel; so at once he commenced an argument against 
the government of the Church and the power of the bishops. Finding that 
nothing else but a controversy would do him, the Bishop met him prompt- 
ly, with a force that evidently overpowered him. The colonel rallied and 
came again to the attack, but was again routed, with great slaughter of his 
arguments. Next he attempted to escape without calling for quarter by 
saying he had not words to express his ideas, or he would make it appear 
very different. But the Bishop had determined that as nothing but a con- 
test would do him, he would make him cry out. The Bishop repeated slow- 
ly the words of the colonel: "Words, words," said the Bishop, "to express 
your ideas! Words," said he, "are the signs of ideas, and you cannot have 
ideas without signs. Now, friend," said he, "if you have any ideas that 
you have not conveyed, you have received and retained those ideas by 
a certain set of signs. They may not be the best signs for the purpose, 
but do you use just such signs as you have, and I will undertake to 
understand them. Now," said he, "use your signs," and dropped his 
head. All sat in perfect silence for half a minute, waiting for the signs to 
be given; but not one word was said. The Bishop then looked him fiercely 
in the face and said, with a manner of earnestness not common to him, 
"Use your signs," and another pause ensued and to the poor colonel 
it was an awful pause but no signs were given. Then said the Bishop: 
"Friend, you are mistaken; it is the want of ideas." I felt two badly 
for the poor colonel to laugh; but the sympathies of the circle were with 
the Bishop and the controversy closed with a burst of laughter at the 
colonel's expense. After awhile, when the Bishop and myself retired to 
the stateroom for me to read to him (which he requested me to do at stated 
periods), I said to him: "You treated that gentleman too badly." He an- 
swered by saying: "Let him let me alone." 

From New Orleans he wrote to the Book Agents at New York: 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 353 

I intend to stay here some ten or twelve days, then take steamboat for 
Bayou Sara, then land and visit the Churches as extensively as I can, to 
Natchez, then go by steamboat to Nashville by the last of March. From 
Nashville I intend to resume my course of visiting the Churches, through 
the lower part of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois; thence return, with the 
Conferences, from the West across the mountains, and visit the Atlantic 
States and Conferences. From Philadelphia, where Brother Emory left 
me last spring, I set out to visit the Churches through Virginia, Pennsyl- 
vania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, where I expected to take up my 
abode for the winter. I have attended three Annual Conferences and ten 
or twelve quarterly meetings. I have seen great and very good times and 
rejoiced in the prosperity of Zion. For want of a steamboat, I failed to 
attend the Mississippi Conference." 

Thus his soul could plan and his zeal could dare to try and 
execute; but his strength enabled him to effect a part only of- 
his program of labor. 

Having concluded the object of his tour to Mississippi and 
Louisiana, he returned in the early part of the spring, and was 
at his brother's on April 20, 1830. There he received a respect- 
ful and affectionate letter from his old friend and fellow laborer, 
Abbott Godard, regretting his inability to accompany him, as 
requested, on account of his poor health. He then again called 
on J. B. Crist to go with him, who, in his usual kind and respect- 
ful manner, readily consented. Preparations were soon made, 
and he started to visit and preach at popular meetings and in 
towns through the West. About this time he received an official 
communication from the Board of Managers of the Missionary 
Society, through their committee (S. Merwin, S. Luckey, and 
James L. Phelps), calling his attention to the subject of a mis- 
sion in Africa and suggesting Liberia as a suitable site for such 
an establishment and promising "the means for such mission 
or missions." The writer is fully aware that for eighteen years 
at least the Bishop had been anxiously looking around for the 
men and means to send the gospel to Africa, and he received 
the letter with high gratification. The result and the mission 
of the lovely and lamented Melville B. Cox to that benighted 
region and his heroic and untimely death will appear hereafter. 


Begins his tour in 1830 in feeble health Friends protest Breaks down 
at Jonesboro Returns Discont nues his Diary In 1831 starts 
again Spends the winter in Baltimore General Confernece of 1832 
Bishops' Address Action of the General Conference as to Bishop Mc- 
Kendree J. 0. Andrew and John Emory elected bishops Sketches 
Emory as President. 

WHEN Bishop McKendree started, in the spring of 1830, to 
accomplish his proposed campaign of pastoral duties, it was 
evident to others, as it was presently to himself, that he was 
physically unable to endure the labor of so great an enterprise. 
He was no longer the Jupiter of our ecclesiastical system, the 
largest and brightest in the episcopal train, and sweeping along 
a vast orbit, but, like Mercury, moving in a smaller circle, 
seldom seen, but ever near the sun. Instead of making the tour 
through the West, South, and East, as he had proposed, he had 
to confine himself to a small part of the West during the spring 
and summer; and even that was effected in great pain and weari- 
ness. In October, however, he was present at the Kentucky 
Conference, in Russellville. It seems that he had not yet fully 
made up his mind to relinquish his cherished project, and it re- 
quired the earnest and repeated protests of his old friends to 
dissuade him from attempting it. At last, however, he con- 
sented to a compromise. He was to cross the Cumberland 
Mountains, attend the Holston Conference at Ebenezer, Greene 
County, East Tennessee, November 4, and thence travel east, 
if his strength should allow, across the Alleghenies; but should 
he find himself greatly exhausted, he agreed to return from 
Ebenezer to Nashville. The tour began. Slowly and painfully 
he journeyed over the mountains, for about the sixtieth time; 
and before he reached the seat of the Conference he could 
neither get in nor out of his carriage without assistance. Fre- 
quently he had to be carried in the arms of others, his sympa- 
thizing and faithful traveling companion, J. B. Crist, being often 
constrained to shed tears over his precious and suffering charge. 
Yet he complained not, except occasionally by an involuntary, 
half -suppressed moan. No murmur escaped his lips. Upon the 
second day of the session he arrived, pale, haggard, and utterly 
exhausted. The preachers were struck with amazement and 
admiration, and gathered around him, some in tears and some 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 355 

with smiles. He was confined to his bed nearly the whole ses- 
sion, visiting it but once and but for a few minutes. But it still 
required the earnest advice of his friends to divert him from his 
proposed tour. At last he yielded, and with tears welling in his 
eyes, said: " I approve your judgment and submit." 

Sad, sick, and very feeble, the good old Bishop began the re- 
turn tour soon after the close of the session . He could not venture 
to remain there during the winter, already setting in. He was 
at the base of the highest mountain range in the United States; 
and the long and severely cold winter must greatly aggravate 
his asthmatic and rheumatic complaints. It was death to stay 
and little less to go. The distance was nearly four hundred 
miles, over as mountainous and rough a road as could be found. 
He had accomplished nothing by coming, except to convince 
himself that the circle of his future movements must be a con- 
stantly diminishing one, with constantly increasing pain. Yes, 
and he doubtless learned also that it is both duty and pleasure, 
"in age and feebleness extreme," to be able to say: "Thy will 
be done!" 

Recrossing the Nolichucky River and passing through Green- 
ville and down the Valley of the Holston to Knoxville, and thus 
on and over the mountains and down to Nashville he came, 
reaching his brother's about Christmas. Who can imagine what 
that trip cost him, when motion itself was wearying and every 
root and rut and rock over which the carriage jolted was an in- 
strument of agony! 

The Bishop was accustomed to keep a diary for each year; 
some portions are lost, but others have assisted in tracing his 
footsteps and delineating his character. We have no such traces 
during this era of his sufferings, not a line from his own pen. 
He seemed to act on the principle that his bright days and active 
labors for the Church should be scored down and remembered, 
but that days of sadness and suffering should be left unrecorded 
and unremembered. The fact is, from the spring of 1830, no 
regular diary has been found. i> !ft& 

From his return home to the ensuing spring he remained in 
winter quarters, not venturing to go far or taxing his strength very 
much, having become convinced that unless he could get strong- 
er, he could do but little in future. Of course he preached and 
visited in the neighborhoods of his temporary residences, as he 
had opportunity. This prudent course revived him considera- 
bly, and in the spring of 1831 he went forth again. His course was 
through Kentucky and Ohio, passing over the mountains in the 

356 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

fall and spending the winter in Baltimore, staying principally 
with his old friend, Dr. Henry Wilkins. Throughout this tour 
he, as usual, attended quarterly and other meetings and preached 

The following letter from Dr. Emory was received at this 

NEW YORK, April 17, 1832. 

Dear Bishop: Your favor of the fourteenth instant reached me last 
evening. I am much gratified to learn that you will visit us on the twenti- 
eth instant, and will meet you with a carriage at the boat. 
^ Permit me to add that a large and beautiful new church of ours, in a 
central part of this city, is to be opened on Friday next, twentieth instant, 
at 4 P.M., the opening sermon to be preached by Brother Fisk, of Middle- 
town, and one in the evening by Brother Merwin. A joint committee of 
the trustees and preachers have requested me to supply the pulpit on the 
first Sabbath morning viz., the twenty-second instant, at half-past ten 
o'clock, with the privilege of inviting any other person to supply my place 
at my discretion, and knowing, as I do, the great satisfaction it would 
afford to have your services on that occasion, I beg that you will have the 
goodness to accept the appointment and allow me to have it announced 
(as may very conveniently be done on Friday evening) that you will preach 
there, the Lord willing, at that time. A line from you by return of mail 
signifying your assent will very much oblige me. Should you be too much 
fatigued to write yourself, some friend will do it for you on your dictation. 

It may be proper to inform you that our Missionary Anniversary is to 
be on Friday, the twenty-seventh instant, at 5 P.M., and not on the 

With great respect, very affectionately yours, J. EMORY. 

In the latter part of March, 1832, he passed from Baltimore to 
Philadelphia and lodged with his old and long-tried friend, Dr. 
Thomas Sargent, where unremitting and affectionate attention 
was ever shown him by the kind and amiable family. 

The General Conference of 1832 began as usual, on May 1, 
in Philadelphia. Two hundred and twenty-three delegates had 
been elected by the twenty-three Annual Conferences viz., 
New York, 20; New England, 14; Maine, 11; New Hampshire 
and Vermont, 11; Oneida, 12; Genesee, 6; Pittsburgh, 11; Ohio, 
15; Illinois, 7; Holston, 8; Kentucky, 13; Missouri, 3; Tennessee, 
13; Mississippi, 7; Georgia, 12; South Carolina, 8; Virginia, 14; 
Baltimore, 17; Philadelphia, 18; and Canada, 3. After the 
organization of the body in the usual manner, the bishops pre- 
sented their Address, and it was referred to appropriate com- 
mittees. This Address congratulated the Conferences that the 
troubles and dangers which had threatened the peace and pros- 
perity of the Church had nearly passed away; that, whilst these 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 357 

troubles had elicited a more general and careful attention to the 
economy of the Church, the result had been a clearer conviction 
of the excellency of our polity, and especially of the efficiency 
of our itinerant system; and consequently, peace, harmony, and 
reciprocal confidence had been greatly increased and confirmed. 
They therefore suggested that the chief business of that assem- 
bly was to preserve this state of things and to devise measures for 
the more extensive and efficient operation of that system which 
has been so remarkably successful. 

The attention of the Conference was invited to the subjects 
of missions and temperance, with various other topics, particu- 
larly to the necessity of "strengthening the episcopacy in view 
of the death of Bishop George and the enlargement of the work." 

Bishop McKendree was greatly delighted with this repre- 
sentation of the condition of the Church and of the peaceful and 
harmonious indications in the Conference. 

Bishop McKendree, having been solicited to preach the funeral 
sermon of Bishop George and preside at the ordination of the 
bishops elect, delivered an appropriate and impressive sermon 
on May 25, 1832. 

The following extract from the Journal of the General Con- 
ference of 1832, shows the action of that body conformably to 
a Report of the Committee on Episcopacy in relation to Bishop 
McKendree's work and compensation for the next four years: 


In consequence of the age and increased infirmities of our venerable and 
beloved Bishop McKendree, it is recommended that his present relation 
be continued, and that the sum of $250 be allowed him annually for extra 
expenses and to defray the traveling expenses of a traveling companion, 
and $100 for the allowance of said traveling companion, and that he be 
authorized to draw this amount from the Book Concern. 

He was too feeble to attend constantly the sessions, but occasionally 
would be seen walking up the aisle and taking a seat by the side of his 
colleagues, but would remain in the room a short time only. His last 
visit to the Conference was made the day before the adjournment. Having 
remained as long as his strength would allow, he arose to retire. He was 
but too conscious of his approaching dissolution to expect ever to meet his 
brethren again in another General Conference. Leaning on his staff, his 
once tall and manly form, now bent with age and infirmity, his eyes 
suffused with tears, his voice faltering with emotion, he exclaimed: "Let 
all things be done without strife or vainglory, and try to keep the unity of. 
the Spirit in the bonds of peace. My brethren and children, love one an- 
other." Then, spreading forth his trembling hands, and raising his eyes to 

358 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

heaven, he pronounced, in faltering and affectionate accents, the apostolic 
benediction. Slowly and sadly he left the house to return no more. 1 

The whole assembly rose and stood till he disappeared. It 
reminded the writer of Joshua's farewell to the assembled elders 
and people of Israel at Mount Ephraim; our Moses had departed 
in 1816, and now his successor takes his last, fond look at "the 
heads of the tribes," his old and tried fellow soldiers on many 
a moral battle field, and bids them adieu! 

In compliance with the suggestions of the bishops and the 
Report of the Committee on the Episcopacy, the Conference 
proceeded to elect two more bishops, and James 0. Andrew and 
John Emory were elected on the first ballot, the former by a 
vote of 140, the latter by 135, out of 223 votes cast. 

The two persons elected to the episcopacy were eminently 
fitted for the office. James 0. Andrew was about thirty-eight 
years of age. He was admitted on trial in the South Carolina 
Conference in 1812, and had faithfully and usefully filled many 
important appointments in South Carolina and Georgia. He 
was in the prime of life, and of a spotless reputation, both as a 
man and a minister. In his private and social intercourse he 
was cordial, sincere, and affectionate; and as a preacher he was 
earnest, strong, and useful, grasping his subjects firmly and 
often presenting his thoughts with peculiar force and effect. 
His strong common sense, combined with his piety, intelligence, 
and undoubted devotion to the Church, pointed him out as a 
suitable man for the office. How he has fulfilled its duties, we 
must let his future biographer tell. He still lives as the super- 
annuated senior bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South, honored and beloved by all who know him, as a man and 
a bishop, without guile or reproach. 

John Emory was a native of Queen Anne County, Md., born 
1789. He received a classical education, and devoted himself 
to the study of the law with ardor and success. Before he had 
reached his majority, he obtained license as a lawyer and soon 
secured an honorable position in his profession. His parents were 
Methodists and belonged to the best class of the community. 
He joined the Church at seventeen years of age and entered the 
itinerant ministry in the Baltimore Conference in 1810. In 
person, he was below the medium height, thin, not weighing 
over one hundred and twenty pounds. His features were indic- 
ative of intelligence, benignity, and thoughtfulness. His man- 

iLarabee, p. 228. 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 359 

ners were easy, grave, and always dignified. His early classical 
and professional training had developed a mind naturally clear 
and vigorous. His piety was steady; his sense of duty strong. 
In debate, he seized upon the point at issue at once, cleared it of 
all extraneous verbiage, and discussed it logically. Such was the 
estimate placed upon his character and abilites that he was 
sent in 1820 as a representative of the Church to the British 
Conference, and in 1824 was elected Book Agent with Nathan 
Bangs. Mr. Emory had filled every position with great pro- 
priety and success, and brought to the Book Agency the very 
highest capacity for the management of that difficult work, and, 
in association with his laborious and worthy colleague, effected 
great and useful results. Take him all in all, as a scholarly and 
thoroughly trained mind, he had no superior in that General 
Conference. He had, therefore, rare qualifications for his office. 
This was tested severely immediately after his consecration. 
It is a custom, which would be "more honored in the breach 
than in the observance," to place the newly elected bishop in 
the chair the first session after his ordination. In Bishop 
Emory's case this happened to be the closing session of the body. 
It was, moreover, a night session, the members were impatient, 
had arranged to leave early next morning, and there was a 
great deal of unfinished business and some perplexing matters 
to adjust. I think I never saw a General Conference session 
which threatened to be more difficult to control, and I truly 
sympathized with our episcopal novitiate when the elder bishop 
placed him in the chair that night. But, to the surprise of all, 
he had not occupied it five minutes before there was perfect 
order. He was calm, self-possessed; understood thoroughly the 
Rules of Order, and applied them promptly, impartially, and 
to the admiration of all present. Thus a great amount of 
business was dispatched quietly and intelligibly; delicate 
questions were settled; notices given; and late at night the 
largest body of our ministers which had ever convened in the 
United States adjourned in good order, to meet in Cincinnati, 
Ohio, May, 1836. It was the most harmonious and conservative 
session held since the organization of the delegated body in 1808. 


Bishop Emory's visit to the South His death His letter to Bishop 
McKendree Both died the same year Bishop McKendree 'takes fi- 
nal leave of old friends Gets back to Tennessee on a bed in a carriage 
Letter from Bishop Morris Dr. Adam Clark's letter Melville B. Cox 
His account of himself Goes as missionary to Liberia Dies. 

BISHOP EMORY returned to New York the day after the 
close of the General Conference, and the writer, having a lady 
in charge, had the pleasure of his company. He had known 
him for eight years, but had not been much with him, ex- 
cept in General Conferences and committees, and was much 
pleased with his affable manners and gravely genial spirit. 
Upon arriving by steamboat at the New York wharf, there 
was as usual a great crowd, and a rush of hack and cab drivers 
for baggage and passengers. The Bishop advised me to stand 
by our baggage until he should select a conveyance, and then 
we must take it and leave the management of the baggage 
to him until he should come to us. When all was ready, we were 
surprised to see him get in, too, and order the driver to carry us to 
a certain private boarding house. It was nearly night, and we 
knew that his family resided out of the city, and remonstrated 
against his taking the time to accompany us out of his way. He 
persisted, introduced and commited us to his friends, and then 
left for his own home, promising to call on us at our far-distant 
Southern home "some day." This promise he made good 
during his only tour to hold the Southern Conferences, greatly 
to our surprise and gratification; for late one afternoon in 1833 
who should ride up to our home in La Grange, Ala., but the 
Bishop? He had traveled on horseback pretty much alone 
the whole distance from his house to Alabama, and was en route 
to the Mississippi and Louisiana Conferences. With us he 
tarried and rested about a week. Knowing his peculiar tem- 
perament, and that he could not sleep unless all was silence 
and darkness, he was domiciled in a retired room, and at night 
all his fire was extinguished, the doors and windows tightly 
fastened, and the utmost quietude was enjoyed; even the 
watchdog was interdicted from barking. While here, he wrote 
out his plan for a four years ' course of study instead of two, with 
various other important suggestions upon this and kindred 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 361 

ten at this time and place. He visited and preached for us, 
and the writer went some distance with him when he left. His 
visit taught us to love him deeply; we had respected and ad- 
mired him before. 

The ensuing year (1835) he was thrown from his carriage 
and was found on the turnpike near Baltimore, bleeding and 
dying. Then the Church suffered a great loss, and we mourned 
over his early death as for a brother beloved. The writer has 
perpetuated his name in his own family and his memory in 
his heart. 

The following is his interesting letter to Bishop McKendree, 
just refered to above: 


Dear Bishop: If your health will allow it, as I hope it will, I beg your 
consideration of the following thoughts and your judgment on them 
at your convenience. 

It has long been my conviction that our course of study for young 
preachers should be the same in all the Conferences; that it should be 
more simple and Methodistical than it has been in some of them, 
the indispensable books being such as all the candidates can everywhere 
and at all times obtain and the measures for examination to be more 
efficient. A sketch of this sort may be found in the course proposed 
by Bishop Hedding and myself to the Philadelphia Conference in April 
last and very unanimously adopted. It is contained in the Christian 
Advocate and Journal of May 10; and though it was drawn up in haste 
amid the business of Conference, yet I beg leave to refer you to it as 
an outline of what I propose for the present, subject to the improve- 
ments of experience and time. The course is there divided into two 
years in reference to the present rule for admission into full connec- 
tion; but I shall hope that we may agree to recommend to the next 
General Conference the extension of it to four years in reference to 
graduation to the full powers of eldership; by which means also the 
course may be made more comprehensive and elders be trained up who 
will be prepared to advise and examine others on doctrine, discipline, 
and government, as well as on language, history, geography, etc. The 
necessity for such a uniform course of study of the same standard works 
for both traveling and local preachers as you will presently see my plan 
embraces appears to me the most obvious, not only from the mere 
fact of the great annual increase of our members spread over so great 
an extent of country, but also from the multiplication of books and 
any speculations which are issued from the press, whether our own 
or others, through the periodicals or otherwise. I propose, also, that 
the committees of examination be always appointed at the Annual 
Conference preceding; that each member of the committee be informed 
on what particular branch of the course he will be expected to ex- 
amine; that the candidate be required to meet the committee in 

362 Life and Times of BishoplMcKendree 

the morning of the day before the sitting of the Conference; that the 
members of the committee be in part changed annually, so as to circu- 
late the work of examining through the Conference and thereby to 
excite the older members to study in order to. prepare themselves for 
this duty; and also that we ourselves in the general superintendency, 
on whom the effective administration rests, make ourselves familiar 
with the course as far as may be convenient, which may the more 
readily be done when it shall be the same in all the Conferences; at- 
tend the examinations when practicable, and give such advice and 
assistance as we may judge expedient, thereby exciting both the can- 
didates and examiners to greater diligence, promoting uniform views 
and practice, acquainting ourselves personally with the qualifications 
of those whom we have to station, and on whom to lay hands, not to 
mention the improvement (which I feel much the need of having my- 
self) which we ourselves may derive from those present on these occasions 
and thus assisting to teach. 

And now, in reference to the local order, the great nursery for the itin- 
erant connection, why may we not, through the presiding elders or other- 
wise, recommend to all the quarterly meeting Conferences to require 
attention to the same course of study, suitably divided, on the part, 
for example, of all those applying for license to preach, or for renewal 
of license, or recommendation of orders, or to travel, that they shall, 
in these respective cases, have previously acquainted themselves with 
such a part of the course as shall have been prescribed? This, in the first 
place, will tend to check the licensings of wholly unfit persons and the 
recommending of such, either for orders or to travel; and, in the second 
place, local preachers who had previously gone through this uniform 
course of training would, in case of their admission into the traveling 
connection, find their subsequent progress easy; and the way would be 
also thus prepared for a future enlargement and improvement of the 
course. Indeed, I see no reason why the Annual Conferences and the 
quarterly meeting Conferences, by consent, on our advice, might not 
now act on these principles, preparatory to the establishment of some 
such uniform and efficient measures by the General Conference. In 
all cases of committees for examining local preachers on the course, 
I should think it desirable that one or more of the preachers of the cir- 
cuit or station should be of the committee, and that the presiding elder 
should be present and give his advice or assistance as he might judge 
expedient in the same manner as is proposed to be done by the bishops 
in the case of itinerant preachers, thus securing or promoting, as far as 
practicable, a harmony of views and practice between our two great 
ministerial bodies. One other great point which I have much at heart, 
believing it vitally important for the preservation of our economy and 
to both spiritual and temporal prosperity, is the effecting of a greater 
unformity in the administration of discipline throughout our widespread 
charge. In this I fear there is not only increasing neglect, but great 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 363 

variety, if not contrariety; as a preventive, or a remedy in part, I think 
of proposing to the bishops 

1. That we severally keep a record of all decisions made by either of 
us, and of all those of a general nature made by any Annual Conference 
which we may attend, and that we communicate them to each other 
at the close of our respective rounds of Conferences, or oftener; that we 
may sustain each other when we agree or endeavor to convince each 
other and come to an agreement when we differ. 

2. That we direct the presiding elders to keep a record of all of their 
decisions and those of any quarterly meeting Conferences which they 
may attend and to furnish us with a copy when they meet us at our re- 
spective Annual Conferences. 

3. That all preachers in charge be directed to consult their presiding 
elders in all cases of difficulty or doubt, and the presiding elders, in cases 
of difficulty or doubt to them, to consult the bishop most convenient; 
and if we ourselves individually doubt, to consult each other by letter, 
giving such temporary instructions in the meantime as we shall judge 
most prudent. I had once, indeed, thought of proposing that one of 
us be designated to whom all such communications should be made 
in the interval of Conferences, and that one to communicate with the 
rest in cases of difficulty at such times as he should judge proper. This 
would obviously throw on such an individual great labor, and I am 
not sure whether it would be the best plan; yet, if any one of the bishops 
be willing to take it, I should heartily concur, or should even be will- 
ing to render any service in this way in my power, if desired, rather 
than to fail in the object. 

4. That the bishops agree to meet always several days (perhaps a week 
would be little enough) previously to each General Conference, then 
and there to discuss all points remaining unsettled in our proper prov- 
ince; by which means also we would be better prepared to make such 
farther recommendations as we would judge requisite. 

With best wishes and prayers for your health and happiness, 
Very affectionately, J. EMORY. 

P. S. The Conferences which I am next to attend, the Lord willing, 
will be held at Natchez, Miss., November 13; Montgomery, Ala., De- 
cember 11; Washington, Ga., January 8; Charleston, S. C., February 5; after 
which, to Baltimore; and shall at all times be happy to hear from you, 
and to receive your counsel, or any suggestions which may occur to you. 

J. E. 

The foregoing letter, whatever opinions there may be as to 
some of his suggestions, and the writer is free to say he sees 
no seriuos objections to any of them, exhibits strongly the 
characteristics of this great and good man's mind. Many of his 
suggestions have been adopted in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, South, and, it is believed, in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, also. In thinking of Bishop Emory, and of his equally 

364 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

talented son Robert, and of their early death, the exclama- 
tion involuntarily rises to our lips, Why, why, were such 
men taken away so soon? We must wait for the answer until 
the day of judgment. Until then, we must bow with submis- 
sion to the providence of a wise and good God. 

The death of Bishop McKendree and Bishop Emory oc- 
curred in the same year, 1835, the former, like the evening star, 
slowly and majestically sinking below the horizon of a cloud- 
less sky; the latter, as if 

The brightest star in all the train, 
The glory of night's diadem, 

should rush from the meridian and become suddenly extinct. 
But they are not extinct, they have risen in another hemisphere 
to shine forever! 

' 'The General Conference of 1832 having closed, the senior 
bishop took an affectionate leave of his friends, and especially 
of the preachers, expecting to see them no more until he should 
meet them in the heavenly city. " With mingled emotions of sor- 
row and joy, this final farewell was uttered, they "sorrowing 
most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see 
his face no more;" and that, however white the widespread 
harvest field might be, the arm that had swung the sickle so 
long and so effectively was now palsied by age and the voice 
that had rung its clarion shouts of "Onward!" to his fellow 
toilers in the glorious work was like the daughter of music 
brought low; the doors were being shut in the streets, the sound 
of the grinding was low, the almond tree flourished, the grass- 
hopper was a burden, desire failing, and man was going to his 
long home. On his part, doubtless, there were tears, and sor- 
row, too; but could we look into the depths of his heart, we 
should find that this sorrow was not on account of youthful 
pleasure gone or for declining health and strength; still less 
for cares and toils and sufferings endured, but rather that he 
could work and suffer no longer for Christ's sake. 

Returning to Baltimore, he spent a few weeks enjoying the 
society of many endeared to him by long years of Christian 
love and fellowship; then, turning his face to the West, "he 
crosses the Allegheny Mountains, which he had so often crossed 
in weariness and affliction before, the last time. Passing 
through the western part of Pennsylvania, the north of 
Virginia, the States of Ohio and Kentucky, he at last reached 
his friends in Tennessee. In the latter part of this journey it 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 365 

became necessary to fix a bed in the carriage on which he might 
lie down, being too feeble to sit up." 

In connection with the foregoing, and as illustrative of the 
feelings entertained by the members of the General Conference as 
well as of the Church generally toward the Bishop, I hope I 
violate no courtesy which will not be conceded, by inserting 
the following letter from the Rev. Thomas A. Morris, now 
senior bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, long the 
loved and trusted friend of Bishop McKendree, as also of the 

CINCINNATI, OHIO February 27, 1833. 

Bishop McKendree: Perhaps when we parted in Philadelphia, I shook 
hands with you for the last time in the land of our pilgrimage, but am 
not without hope of seeing you in peace when the redeemed shall be called 
home. You have had your day of toil, peril, and now while you retire 
from the field to recount your campaigns, toils, and victories, it must 
be a source of much consolation to lift up your eyes, look eastward, west- 
ward, northward, and southward and behold the land posessed by your 
brethren and children in the gospel. What wonders God has wrought 
in these latter days! 

The history of our Church in this place the present year, if carried out 
in all parts, would be somewhat remarkable. Three of our local preach- 
ers have died and many of our members. During the cholera, we lost 
by removal, etc., two hundred, which reduced us far below twelve hun- 
dred. But we had more than all this to discourage us. . ."". Yet 
God was with us, and this was enough. The work began to appear in 
October, among the brethren first, and then the wicked. It gradually 
increased, until Brother Maffitt came on the last of November, which 
formed a new crisis in the history of a revival that has now become both 
deep and wide. Seven hundred, at least, have now been regularly admit- 
ted on trial, and I risk nothing in saying, more than five hundred souls 
have been "born again." Many of the old members have obtained the 
full, flowing evidence of perfect love. Class meetings are feasts of joy 
among us, and Zion puts on her "beautiful garments." its 
various modifications, has suffered much from this work, but the Church is 
greatly strengthened, both in grace and members. The work still goes 
on, and we hope to realize a thousand new members in this station this 
present Conference year. Glorious revivals are now in progress in many 
of the towns in Ohio. May the swelling tide roll on and increase until 
the glory of God shall cover the whole earth! 

I trust, Father McKendree, that amidst all of your earthly suffer- 
ings, you hold on to the sheet anchor, and when your heart and your 
flesh shall fail you, may God be the strength of your heart, and your 
portion forever! 

Your obiedient son in the gospel, THOMAS A. MORRIS. 

366 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

As there had been an interchange of delegates between the 
British and American Methodists at the two preceding Gen- 
eral Conferences, it was hoped that as we had sent one in 1828 
(Dr. Capers), another would be sent by the British Confer- 
ence to the General Conference of 1832; and as it was greatly 
desired by Bishop McKendree, as well as by others, that Dr. 
Adam Clarke should visit us, it appears that certain well-known 
ministers wrote him a letter, inviting him to visit the United 
States. The following highly interesting reply is found among 
the Bishop's papers: 

To Messrs. J. Emory, B. Waugh, N. Bangs, and George Suckley. 

Gentlemen and Reverend Brethren: Having been absent in the West 
of England for a considerable time, your letter did not reach my hand 
till some weeks after its arrival. Your kind invitation to visit the 
United States was gratifying to me, and had I been apprised of your 
intention a few months earlier, I should most certainly have endeavored to 
meet your wishes, and by doing so I have no doubt I should have been 
both gratified and profited. But the warning is too short, and I am 
engaged so far, both to England and Ireland, in behalf of our mission- 
ary cause, that I cannot by any substitute redeem those pledges. I had 
proposed also to have visited the Zetland Isles, if possible; but as I had 
not pledged myself to the voyage, I would have waived my purpose in 
favor of America, to visit which I have been long waiting for an opening of 
providence. I might add that I should have wished to have had the 
appointment of our Conferences for the voyage. 

Now, although I feel a measure of regret that I am disappointed in 
this wished-f or visit to the American continent, yet I am far from supposing 
that there may not be a providential interference in the way. I am, as 
no doubt you have already learned, an old man, having gone beyond 
threescore years and ten, and consequently not able to perform the labor 
of youth. You would naturally expect me to preach much, and this 
I could not do. One sermon in the day generally exhausts me; and I 
have been obliged for several years to give up all evening preaching, as 
I found the night air to be peculiarly injurious to my health. My help, 
therefore, must have been very limited, and in many cases this would be 
very unsatisfactory to the good people of the United States. This defi- 
ciency I grant might be supplied by an able assistant, who might be inclined 
to accompany me; but even this would not satisfy the eye or ear of 
curiosity. But as the journey is now impracticable, these reflections 
are useless 

I respect and wish well to your State, and love your Church. As far 
as I can discern, you are close imitators of the orginal Methodists (than 
whom a greater blessing has not been given to the British nation since 
the Reformation), holding the same doctrines and acting under the same 
discipline; therefore have you prospered as we have prospered. There 
is no danger so imminent both to you and us as departing from our 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 367 

original simplicity in the spirit, in manners, and in our mode of worship. 
As the world is continually changing around us, we are liable to be affect- 
ed by those changes in our manners and in our mode of worship. We 
think, in many cases, we may please well-intentioned men better and 
be more useful to them by permitting some of the more innocent forms 
of the world to enter into the Church. Whenever we have done so we 
have infallibly lost ground in the depth of our religion and in its spirit- 
uality and unction. I would say to all, Keep your doctrines and your 
discipline not only in your Church books and in your society rules; preach 
the former without refining on them; observe the latter without bending it 
to circumstances or impairing it by frivolous exceptions and partialities. 
As I believe your nation to be destined to be the mightiest and happiest 
nation on the globe, so I believe that your Church is likely to become 
the most extensive and pure in the universe. As a Church, abide in the 
apostolic doctrine and fellowship. As a nation, be firmly united; enter- 
tain no petty differences; totally abolish the slave trade (if it be not yet 
done); abhor all offensive wars; never provoke even the puniest, and never 
strike the first blow. Encourage agriculture and friendly traffic; cul- 
tivate the sciences and arts; let learning have its proper place, space and 
adequate share of esteem and honor. If possible, live in peace with all 
nations; retain your holy zeal for God's cause and your country's weal 
and, that you may ever maintain your liberty, avoid, as its bane and 
ruin, a national debt. I say to you, as it was said to Rome of old: 1 

Tu regere imperio populo, Romane, memento; 
Has tibi crunt artes; pacisque imponere morem, 
Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos Virgil. 

But whither am I running? Will it be a sufficient excuse to allege, 
"The zeal of your house hath eaten me up"? Truly, truly do I wish 
you good luck, in the name of the Lord; and therefore, with my best 
prayers for your civil and religious prosperity, and hearty thanks to 
each of you individually, for the handsome and honorable manner in 
which you have framed your invitation, I have the honor to be, gentle- 
men and reverend brethren, your obliged humble servant and most 
cordial well-wisher, ADAM CLARKE. 

HAYDON HALL, MIDDLESEX, February 6, 1832. 

Melville B. Cox, a member of the Virginia Conference, who 
had been stationed in the city of Raleigh in 1831, and was a re- 
serve delegate to this General Conference, volunteered to go 
as a missionary to Liberia, on the western coast of Africa, and 
having been accepted, and appointed, attended the General 
Conference on his way to his distant and dangerous field of 
labor. In mind and heart he seemed admirably adapted to 
this enterprise, while some thought his health and constitution 
too frail for it. Great admiration and much sympathy were 

iThe appropriateness of this quotation in its application to the United 
States, as well as its morale, may be questioned. 

368 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

excited in his behalf. He was a very promising, intelligent 
and lovely man, in the prime of life and full of heroic Christian 
zeal. Bishop McKendree, feeling a lively interest in the man 
and the cause, requested him to give in writing the incidents 
of his life, especially his own conversion and religious experience. 
The following is his answer, written when on his way to em- 
bark for Liberia: 

PHILADELPHIA, May 28, 1832. 

Reverend and Dear Father: Below are the data of my Christian and 
ministerial experience, which you were pleased so kindly to inquire 
after. Though my life can have been of little or no consequence in this 
world, save that I love and am trying to serve God, still, the interest 
which prompted the inquiry by one so venerable in age and so high in 
the government and confidence of the Church, I assure you, is very 
grateful to my feelings. That the God whom you serve may bless and be 
with you, that he may particulary sustain and comfort you under the 
infirmities of age and the care of all the Churches, and that your life 
may long be preserved to us and to the world is my sincere wish and 
ardent prayer. 

I am thirty-two years old. I was born in Hollowell, Me., Novem- 
ber 9, 1799. In 1818, July 1, I think I found peace in believing and joy 
while alone in the woods, pleading for mercy in the last language of 
hope, if not in despair. In a few weeks after I joined a small class of 
Methodists, and from that time to this my name has been among them. 
Early in 1820, during a gracious revival, I took charge of a class, and 
on December 17 of the same year I preached my first sermon. In March 
following, I was licensed as a local preacher by the Kennebeck District 
Conference, and immediately commenced traveling under the pre- 
siding elder. At the Bath Conference of 1822, I was received on trial 
and put in charge of Exeter Circuit. I traveled as an effective man until 
May, 1825, when I was taken sick and was left that year as a super- 
numerary with little prospect of recovering. In 1826 and 1827 I was 
superannuated, passing the winter of 1826 and the spring of 1827 in Mary- 
land and the lowlands of Virginia, where I have remained until now, 
except the last year, in North Carolina. In 1828 I located, and took 
charge of The Itinerant. In 1830, finding myself about a thousand 
dollars poorer than when I commenced my editorial labors, under deep 
family afflictions, and with lungs too sensitive to endure the cold, I 
left Baltimore for a more Southern climate. The kind manner in which 
I was received by my Virginia brethren, and anxiety once more to be 
in the traveling connection, induced me to join that Conferene, and, 
live or die, once more to try to preach to sinners. As yet I have 
no cause to regret it. It has been a year of greater profit to my soul 
than any I have ever experienced. I have sufferd much, but enjoyed 
more. Some souls were converted, and my own more filled than for 
years. "God was with us." At present, I am in peace. Death looks 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 369 

pleasant to me, life looks pleasant to me, labor and sufferings look 
pleasant to me, and last, though not least, Liberia looks pleasant to me. 
I see, or think I see, resting on Africa the light and cloud of heaven. I 
thirst to know that the winds of heaven are wafting me there. I pray, 
at least, that my frail body may enrich the soil. 

Very affectionately and Christianly, your son in the gospel, 

M. B. Cox. 

On March 9, 1833, he arrived at Liberia and immediately 
began his labors. He found many members, class leaders, 
and preachers, and organized them into a branch of the Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church. He planned three missions and an 
academy at Monrovia. On March 29, he held the first camp 
meeting ever held in Africa. But in less than five months 
from the time of his arrival he died, and his body rests in the 
soil of Africa. Nevertheless, he laid the foundation of a great 
mission and vindicated his sincerity by prescribing as his epi- 
taph: "Let a thousand fall before Africa be given up!" Alas! 
twenty-five white missionaries had died of the climate, or 
fled from it with ruined health, in seventeen years, while only 
four colored laborers had died in the same time. 


McKendree attends the Tennesse Conference in Pulaski, 1833 Bishop 
Roberts failed to get there Bishop McKendree unable to preside 
His substitutes Meteoric shower He appoints T. L. Douglass pre- 
siding elder Sketch of him Bishop McKendree's address to his col- 
leagues His sermon Returns to Nashville exhausted Preaches 
Resumes his Journal Watch night Starts to New Orleans, January 
1, 1834 His account of the tour At Vicksburg C. K. Marshall 
At Natchez Judge Edward McGehee and the Rev. John C. Burruss 
Dr. Tooley "Slight paralysis" His letter to the Rev. F. A. Owen 
Returns to Tennessee His last camp meeting and interview with Wil- 
liam Burke His last Conference at Lebanon, Tenn., 1834 Requested 
to prepare his biography His reply Last document. 

So utterly debilitated was the Bishop by his long and pain- 
ful journey from Philadelphia to Tennessee, after the Gen- 
eral Conference of 1832, that a considerable period of repose 
was necessary before he could begin to move about; but, as 
usual, rest and kind nursing after a while revived him, and in 
the latter part of the spring of 1833, and throughout the re- 
mainder of the year, he exerted his utmost ability in preach- 
ing, visiting, and attending quarterly and camp meetings. In 
August, 1833, he attended at Saunder's Camp Ground an in- 
teresting camp meeting, and, of course, preached. His kind 
hostess, Mrs. H. R. W. Hill, met him there, and carried him 
to his home in her house at Nashville. There, besides the 
kindest attention, he could enjoy frequent religious privileges 
and the society of his friends Elliston, Garrett, his old fellow 
laborer; Gwin, another firm and devoted friend; A. L. P. 
Green, whose fine social qualities and reverential attachment 
to the Bishop always made him an agreeable companion; F. 
E. Pitts; and Thomas L. Douglass, upon whose fidelity, sound 
judgment, and love of primitive Methodism he ever relied 
with unshaken confidence, besides many others who always 
made his stay in that vicinity most agreeable. 

The Tennessee Conference met in Pulaski, November 6. 
Bishop Roberts was expected to preside, but he was taken ill 
in East Tennessee and did not get to Conference. Bishop 
McKendree arrived, but was so feeble and afflicted that after 
opening and organizing the body he despaired of being able to 
attend effectively to the duties of his office. Indeed, he was in 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 371 

bed most of the session. He informed the Conference of his 
inability to attend to the onerous detail of the business, and 
especially in making the appointments, and that he would 
select two men who must act for him, subject to his general 
supervision; claiming, especially, the selection of the presiding 
elders and the arrangement of the districts. He then named 
Lewis Garrett and the writer as his substitutes. The session 
closed on the fifteenth. It was a long and laborious one. 

On the night of Tuesday and Wednesday, November 12, 13, 
occurred the memorable meteoric shower, which is admitted to 
have been the most magnificent on record. The Bishop's sub- 
stitutes and cabinet had been engaged to a late hour, and the 
writer had just fallen into a profound sleep, when he was 
aroused by loud calls from without. Upon going out, the most 
glorious scene was presented. The heavens were illumined by 
countless meteors. Some seemed small, gliding down like snow 
flakes; others were like great fire balls; a few of these separated 
into fragments, leaving long and luminous trains behind. Look 
wherever you might, the whole hemisphere was full of them. 
It was literally a great shower of meteors. The display be- 
gan before midnight, increased until 3 or 4 A.M., when it 
became surpassingly grand, and continued, with little if any 
diminution, until daybreak. Many displays of this kind are 
recorded, dating back to A.D. 902, the most remarkable of which 
was that seen by Humboldt and Bonpland, at Cumana, in 
South America, on the night of November 12, 13, 1799, the 
time of the writer's birth. He had just been reading the account 
given by these savants of that shower and their speculations 
upon the nature of these bodies, their source, and the height 
of our atmosphere; and his first thoughts upon witnessing the 
scene of 1833 were as to these speculations. The meteors of 
1799 were observed from the equator on the south, over North 
America to Greenland and Labrador, and on the other side of 
the Atlantic to Germany, and from their bearing and course 
at different points, their elevation was computed to be 1,419 
miles. The display of 1833 was seen over all the United States, 
the West India Islands, Mexico, and Canada, and their source, 
as computed by Professor Olmstead, of Yale College, could not 
have been less than 2,238 miles, and consequently was far 
beyond our atmosphere. Astronomers now, I believe, agree 
that they emanate from a nebulous body which revolves around 
the sun and intersects the earth's orbit periodically. Their 
nebulous character is inferred from the fact that, though they 

372 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

seem to fall toward the earth with great velocity, none of them 
ever reach it in a solid state, but are so dissipated that nothing is 
found to discover their nature. It is also supposed that there 
are several such bodies, or streams, which periodically intersect 
the orbit of our planet; and that the most brilliant displays 
are seen while passing through the densest group of these 
streams. Meteors are not to be confounded with aerolites. 

There was considerable religious interest in Pulaski at the 
time, and this awfully sublime phenomenon startled and im- 
pressed the people very greatly. The less informed believed 
"the stars were falling," and the day of judgment had come. 
Prayers, shouts, and screams arose in many places of the town. 
Several preachers had asked to be located the previous after- 
noon; next morning all withdrew their request except one. 
Some one observed in the Conference: "While the stars seemed 
falling last night, I thought what a pity it would be to locate 
on the eve of the judgment!" About forty professed conversion 
and joined the Church. After a long session, the Conference 
closed on November 15. 

The appointments having been completed, excepting the 
presiding elders, the list was presented to the Bishop, when the 
incident occurred alluded to in Dr. Green's sketch of Bishop 
McKendree, and as it exhibits the delicate and responsible 
nature of this office as well as his fitness for it it may be properly 

Thomas L. Douglass had long been known as singularly 
adapted to the presiding eldership. He was a model preacher, 
well-versed in the history, doctrines, and usages of the Church, 
administered the Discipline admirably, and dearly loved 
Methodism. Owing to a fall from his horse, he had been 
disabled, and had not been effective for four years; but his 
health had improved considerably, and at this Conference he 
became effective. A prejudice, however, had arisen against 
him, both among some of the preachers in the Conference and 
some of the stewards in his former district, simply and exclu- 
sively because he insisted that in the distribution of the Con- 
ference collections, and the quarterage on the circuits, the law 
of the Church gave to every legal claimant his pro rata share; 
and that in neither case had the stewards the right to constitute 
themselves a committee on necessitous cases and divide the 
funds at their discretion; that if a preacher was rich, this did 
not effect his lawful claims, and that he preferred to be the 
almoner of his own money. He admitted that the Conference 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 373 

could appoint a committee on necessitous cases, who could 
appropriate such funds as might be obtained for this purpose; 
but the money raised according to the Discipline is not of this 
kind, and therefore by right belongs to the regular claimants. 
In this he was undoubtedly correct; but, on account of these 
views, there was said to be opposition to his being sent to his 
old district as presiding elder. Bishop McKendree, no doubt, 
understood it all, and coincided with Douglass as to the law 
of the Church, yet was distressed because by appointing him 
to the district he would seem to disregard the wishes of the 
stewards, and in rejecting him would not only lose the best man 
for the position, but appear to sanction a departure from the 
rule of the Discipline. After revolving the subject anxiously 
and maturely, he felt it his duty to appoint him to the office. 
In this he certainly did right, and his decision was fully vindi- 
cated, for Brother Douglass was continued on the district dur- 
ing four years, with increasing popularity and usefulness. Then, 
full of years and weighed down with infirmities, he retired from 
the effective ranks which he entered in 1801. In 1843 he closed 
his life in peace, honored for his talents and usefulness and 
loved for his many virtues. 

While at the Tennessee Conference, Bishop McKendree 
dispatched to each of his colleagues the following document, 
giving his views of the rights and duties of ministers and the 
proper manner of trying members according to the Discipline 
and Scripture. It was addressed to the bishops and, if they 
approved of it, to the preachers generally. We do not know 
whether the other bishops concurred in his views or whether it 
was ever submitted by them to the Annual Conferences. It 
presents his matured views and was his last attempt to bring 
about a consistent and uniform administration of the Discipline 
in the premises: 

Beloved Brother: In passing through our work here and there, our at- 
tention is frequently arrested and called to notice the course pursued in 
the administration of discipline; and we apprehend there is a danger, in some 
instances, of a departure from the spirit and letter of the rule, both to the 
injury of individuals and the work generally. We have therefore thought 
it advisable that something be done, both to preserve the execution of dis- 
cipline in its purity, and to maintain uniformity of procedure throughout 
our societies; and. as the bishops are responsible for a correct administra- 
tion of the government, it would seem to us that it is our business to unite 
in such a course as will have a tendency both to correct errors and abuses 
and harmonize the views of our preachers on this all-important subject. 

374 Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 

In view of this object, the accompanying address has been drawn up, for 
the purpose of being presented to the preachers in the Annual Conferences. 
There may be some things needing correction not noticed in this address, 
but those which are mentioned are, to us, very evidently of high importance. 
They are submitted to you for inspection and concurrence. Explanations 
of this kind cannot be given with propriety or authority, in the intervals 
of General Conference, except from the episcopacy; and we shall be greatly 
strengthened and sustained therein by consulting and knowing that old 
men and men of experience approve and concur with us in those things. 
With continued prayers to Almighty God that he may prosper and bless 
you in all your labors in his vineyard, we remain, as ever, your brethren in 
the love and fellowship of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

To the preachers and brethren whose duty it may be to execute the discipline of our Church. 

Dearly Beloved in the Lord: It is admitted to be the glory of Methodism 
that it is virtually the same in every part of the world; our doctrines are 
the same both in Europe and America; our discipline the same throughout 
the United States; and the execution of discipline, or the administration 
of the government of the Church, ought to be the same throughout the so- 
cieties. In this respect, however, we have found considerable difference 
of sentiment and practice, owing, it is presumable, to the different circum- 
stances and situation of things in different sections of our widely extended 
field of labor. It is therefore thought proper that a short explanatory view 
of our rules for conducting the trials of preachers and members in our 
Church should be presented to you for the all-important purpose of pre- 
serving and maintaining, if possible, a uniform practice among us in every 
respect conformable to our excellent system of discipline. 

As the grand object of the gospel is to save men, consequently the de- 
sign of gospel discipline is to convict, reform, and fit them for happiness, 
and not to destroy or render them subjects of misery. In the execution of 
discipline, punishment or expulsion in the last operation consequent upon 
man's continuance in unbelief and crime, and this is a painful work to the 
administrator. When our Lord pronounced sentence against the Jewish 
nation, he wept. Luke xix. 41-44. 

St. Paul suffered much persecution from the backslidden Corinthians, 
but he preserved in the exercise of gospel discipline by applying the doc- 
trines of justice to convict and mercy to encourage a return to reformation 
until he succeeded and triumphed in their salvation. (See Epistles to the 

In conformity to this view of gospel discipline, our rules and regulations 
are carried into operation with the explicit understanding that crimes are 
divided into two classes: The first comprehends all such as are "expressly 
forbidden in the Word of God" (see Discipline, p. 68); and to this class 
only is the act of punishment or expulsion extended in the first instance of 
the exercise of discipline. The second class of crimes comprehends neglect 
of duties, etc. (See Book of Discipline, p. 70.) In all such cases, the first 
step in the exercise of discipline is private reproof, given by some one hav- 
ing the charge over the supposed offender; and if there be an acknowledg- 

Life and Times of Bishop McKendree 375 

ment, etc., the person is to be borne with. On a second offense that is, 
on the crime being repeated one or two faithful friends are to be taken, 
and if the person be not then cured, the case is to be brought before the 
Church, as the Discipline directs; and if there be no sign of real humiliation, 
he must be cut off. And when a person is clearly convicted of such a crime 
or crimes, nothing short of expulsion will satisfy the rule, unless there be 
such a manifestation of genuine repentance and humiliation as will justify 
the extension of pardon to the offending person; in such case, the connec- 
tion between crime and its punishment is dissolved. Such cases may pos- 
sibly occur, and when they do, much care and prudence- is necessary to 
guard the Church from reproach and injury and at the same time save the 
offender. In all cases of the second class of crime, the first and second steps 
ought to be taken previously to bringing the offender before the Church, 
and the continual intention should be to "save a soul from death" and the 
Church from reproach and influence of bad example consequent on hold- 
ing persons guilty of crime in fellowship. James v. 20; Jude 20-25. 

The Discipline, when rightly understood, in connection with the nature 
of our episcopal government, very clearly points out the mode of trial to be 
pursued in regard to the different grades in the ministry, and also the pri- 
vate members; and there are some important principles closely connected 
with the administration of discipline which should never be forgotten. 

A bishop or superintendent, having the general oversight of the spiritual 
and temporal concerns of the Church, is, of course, authorized to attend to 
any and all matters, small and great, in the execution of discipline. 

A presiding elder, who is, in fact, the agent of the bishop, is, in virtue of 
his appointment, authorized to exercise episcopal authority within the 
limits of his district (ordination excepted) ; consequently it is his business, 
when present, fully to attend to every part of the execution of discipline. 

The assistant preacher is indeed the presiding elder's aid and has the 
more particular oversight and care of the circuit or station to which he is 
appointed. (See his duties as contained in the Discipline, p. 39.) 

The helper is one placed on a circuit or station with the assistant and is 
under his direction in anything he may do in the execution of discipline. 

The class leader is restricted to his own class; and, if active and zealous, 
may do much for God and souls in keeping up order and discipline therein. 

It should never be forgotten that the privileges of our ministers and 
preachers of trial by a committee and of an appeal and the privileges of 
our members of trial before the society or by a committee and of an appeal 
are sacredly guaranteed to them by the Constitution of our Church. 

The great object of committees is to attend to complaints or charges in 
the intervals of Conferences and thereby rescue the character of innocent 
brethren, wrongfully accused, from injury and preserve their usefulness 
by acquitting them when not found guilty; and, if judged to be guilty, to 
save the Church from